(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The life and works of Paul Laurence Dunbar : ... and a complete biography of the famous poet"



University of California Berkeley 



+* 







At the ?{?e of twenty-four. 



OK Life and oiorks of 
Paul Laurence Dunbar 



CONTAINING 

HIS COMPLETE POETICAL 
WORKS, HIS BEST SHORT 
STORIES, NUMEROUS 
ANECDOTES AND A 
COMPLETE BIO 
GRAPHY OF THE 
FAMOUS POET. 

By 

Lida Keck Wiggins 

And an Introduction by 
WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS 

From "Lyric* of Lowly Life" 

PROFUSELY ILLUSTRATED WITH 

OVER HALF A HUNDRED 

FULL PAGE PHOTO 

AND HALF-TONE 

ENGRAVINGS. 



PUBLISHED BY 

AUSTIN-JENKINS COMPANY 

WASHINGTON, D. C. 



Copyright, 1896-98-99, 1900-01-03-04-05-1907, 
BY DODD, MEAD & COMPANY 



Copyright, 1897-98-99, 1900-01-02-03-04-03, 
BY THE CURTIS PUBLISHING COMPANY 

Copyright, 1895*96-97-98, 1901-02-03-04-03, 
BY THE CENTURY COMPANY 



Contents 



INTRODUCTION TO " LYRICS OF A Low Y LIFE " 

By William Dean Howelk 

FOREWORD 

PART I 
THE LIFE OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR . . 

PART II 
THE POEMS OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR . 



19 



137 



ABSENCE 198 

Accountability . 138 

Advice 319 

After a Visit 162 

After Many Days 333 

After the Quarrel 161 

After While 167 

Alexander Crummell Dead . . . 216 

Alice 161 

Anchored 321 

Angelina 335 

Ante-Bellum Sermon, An 144 

Appreciation 314 

At Candle-Lightin' Time 235 

At Cheshire Cheese 227 

At Loafing-Holt 329 

At Night 320 

At Sunset Time 328 

At the Tavern 301 

Awakening, The 320 

BACK-LOG SONG, A 237 

Ballad 174 

Ballade 282 

Banjo Song, A 148 

Barrier, The 205 

Behind the Arras ........ 199 

Bein' Back Home 326 

Beyond the Years ........ 162 



Black Samson of Brandywine . . . 286 

Blue 322 

Bohemian, The 197 

Boogah Man, The 268 

Booker T. Washington 287 

Border Ballad, A 166 

Boy's Summer Song, A 303 

Breaking the Charm 241 

Bridal Measure, A 203 

By Rugged Ways 291 

By the Stream 166 

CABIN TALE, A 243 

Change, The 325 

Change Has Come, The 174 

Changing Time 184 

Chase, The 325 

Choice, A 227 

Chrismus is A-Comin* 218 

Christmas 335 

Christmas Folksong, A 304 

Christmas in the Heart 208 

Chrismus on the Plantation .... 231 

Circumstances Alter Cases .... 327 

Colored Band, The 262 

Colored Soldiers, The 168 

Columbian Ode 165 

Communion 213 

Comparison 174 



CONTENTS 



Compensation 3 21 

Confesaional 222 

Confidence, A 185 

Conquerors, The 216 

Conscience and Remorse 157 

Coquette Conquered, A i?5 

Corn Song, A 3 

Corn-Stalk Fiddle, The 145 

Crisis, The 21 S 

Critters' Dance, De 20 7 

Curiosity 3} 1 

Curtain ^ 2 

DANCE, THE 2 55 

Dat Ol' Mare o' Mine 2 73 

Dawn *77 

Day 3^5 

Deacon Tones' Grievance W 

Dead . 185 

Death 3 O1 

Death of the First Bora 3 2 ^ 

Death Song, A 2 '8 

Debt, The 2 9O 

Delinquent, The 177 

Dely . . 240 

Deserted Plantation, The 180 

Despair 3 2 7 

Differences 2 75 

Dilettante, The ; A Modern Type . 166 

Dinah Kneading Dough 274 

Diplomacy 38 

Dirge 178 

Dirge for a Soldier 280 

Disappointed 175 

Discovered 174 

Discovery, The 319 

Distinction 217 

Disturber, The 228 

Douglass 287 

Dove, The 252 

Dreamer, The 205 

Dreamin* Town 322 

Dreams 205 

Dreams 252 

Dream Song I 208 

Dream Song II 208 

Drizzle 266 

Drowsy Day, A 177 



EASY-COIN' FELLER, AN 

Encouraged 

V Encouragement .... 



166 



End of the Chapter, The 206 

Ere Sleep Comes Down to Soothe the 

Weary Eyes 137 

Expectation 229 

FAITH 3 12 

Farewell to Arcady 226 

Farm Child's Lullaby, The .... 313 

Fisher Child's Lullaby, The . . . . 312 

Fishing 2 59 

Florida Night, A 275 

Foolin' wid de Seasons 232 

Fount of Tears, The 3 

Forest Greeting, The 34 

Forever 335 

For the Man Who Fails 223 

Frederick Douglass 139 

Frolic, A 280 



GARRET, THE 200 

Golden Day, A 3^ 

Good-Night 175 

Gourd, The 214 

Grievance, A 2 73 

Growin' Gray 189 

HAUNTED OAK, THE 297 

He Had His Dream 175 

Her Thought and His 198 

Harriet Beecher Stowe 223 

Hope 3*4 

" Howdy, Honey, Howdy ! " ... 277 

How Lucy Backslid -245 

Hunting Song 242 

Hymn, A 204 

Hymn 178 

Hymn 230 



IF 186 

In an English Garden 215 

In August 228 

In May 248 

lone i|7 

Inspiration 265 

In Summer *97 

fin the Morning 274 

In the Tents of Akbar 299 

Invitation to Love ! 75 

Itching Heels 297 



CONTENTS 



JEALOUS 238 

Jilted 231 

Joggin' Erlong 251 

Johnny Speaks 303 

Just Whistle a Bit 204 

KEEP A-PLUGGIN' AWAY 164 

Keep a Song up on de Way .... 254 

Kidnaped , . 321 

King is Dead, The 209 

Knight, The 210 

LAPSE, THE 225 

Lawyers' Ways, The 147 

Lazy Day, A 3*5 

Lesson, The 140 

Letter, A 242 

Life 140 

Life's Tragedy 300 

LiT Gal 285 

Lily of the Valley, The 307 

Limitations 315 

Lincoln 268 

Little Brown Baby 200 

Little Christmas Basket, A .... 260 

Little Lucy Landman 209 

Liza May 333 

Lonesome 188 

Long Ago 276 

Longing 148 

'Long To'ds Night 270 

Looking-Glass, The 287 

Lost Dream, A 336 

Love 207 

Love and Grief 207 

Love Despoiled 225 

Love Letter, A 330 

Lover and the Moon, The .... 156 

\f Lover's Lane 229 

Love's Apotheosis 195 

Love's Castle 281 

Love's Draft 320 

Love's Humility . 209 

Love's Phases 222 

Love Song, A 299 

Love-Song 288 

Love's Seasons 291 

Lullaby 210 

Lyrics of Love and Sorrow .... 302 

MARE RUBRUM 214 

Master-Player, The 146 



Masters, The 334 

Meadow Lark, The 184 

Melancholia 172 

Memory of Martha, The 277 

Merry Autumn . . . ; 173 

Misapprehension 222 

Misty Day, A 287 

Monk's Walk, The 288 

Morning 319 

Morning Song of Love 281 

Mortality 207 

Murdered Lover, The 289 

Musical, A 320 

My Corn-Cob Pipe 228 

My Little March Girl .224 

My Sort o' Man 236 

Mystery, The 146 

Mystic Sea, The 197 

My Sweet Brown Gal 261 

My Lady of Castle Grand 266 

NATURE AND ART 167 

Negro Love Song, A . 1 68 

News, The 231 

Night 329 

Night, Dim Night 302 

Night of Love 165 

Noddin' by de Fire 282 

Noon 301 

Nora : A Serenade 176 

Not They Who Soar 151 

OCTOBER 176 

Ode for Memorial Day 151 

Ode to Ethiopia 145 

Old Apple-Tree, The 141 

Old Cabin, The 333 

Old Front Gate, The 279 

Ol' Tunes, The 171 

On a Clean Book 281 

One Life 184 

On the Dedication of Dorothy Hall . 291 

On the Road 237 

On the Sea Wall 221 

Opportunity 311 

Over the Hills 196 

PARADOX, THE 196 

Parted 238 

Parted . 335 

yParty, The 193 

Passion and Love 142 



CONTENTS 



Path, The 14? 

Phantom Kiss, The 213 

Philosophy 290 

Photograph, The 213 

Phyllis 186 

Place Where the Rainbow Ends, The, 3 1 3 

Plantation Child's Lullaby, The . . 308 

Plantation Melody, A 276 

Plantation Portrait, A 256 

Plea, A 252 

Poet, The 275 

Poet and His Song, The 138 

Poet and the Baby, The 217 

Pool, The 279 

Possession 279 

Possum 237 

Possum Trot 239 

Prayer, A 142 

Precedent 209 

Preference, A 290 

Premonition 152 

Preparation 179 

Prometheus 222 

Promise and Fulfilment 143 

Protest 230 

Puttin' the Baby Away 316 

QUILTING, THE 335 

RAIN-SONGS 336 

Real Question, The 230 

Religion 160 

Reluctance 285 

Remembered 224 

Resignation 209 

Response 260 

Retort 138 

Retrospection 152 

Riding to Town 183 

Right's Security 186 

Right to Die, The 198 

Rising of the Storm, The 141 

Rivals, The 155 

River of Ruin, The 330 

Roadway, A 291 

Robert Gould Shaw 294 

Roses 294 

Roses and Pearls 336 

SAILOR'S SONG, A 197 

Sand-Man, The 303 

Scamp 107 



Secret, The 179 

Seedling, The 143 

She Gave Me a Rose 208 

She Told Her Beads 209 

Ships That Pass in the Night ... 177 

Signs of the Times 187 

Silence 269 

Slow Through the Dark 289 

Snowin' 253 

Soliloquy of a Turkey 255 

Song 144 

Song 266 

Song, A 337 

Song, A 337 

Song, The 186 

Song of Summer 153 

Sonnet 218 

Sparrow, The 188 

Speakin' at de Cou't-House .... 286 

Speakin' o' Christmas 188 

Spellin'-Bee, The 162 

Spiritual, A 276 

Spring Fever 261 

Spring Song 153 

Spring Wooing, A 251 

Stirrup Cup, The 227 

Sum, The 217 

Summer Night, A 328 

Summer's Night, A 177 

Sunset , . . 141 

Suppose 325 

Sympathy 207 

TEMPTATION 239 

Then and Now 227 

Theology 209 

Thou Art My Lute 213 

Till the Wind Gets Right ..... 328 

Time to Tinker 'Roun' 1 203 

To a Captious Critic ..!.... 270 

To a Dead Friend 292 

To a Lady Playing the Harp . . . 221 

To an Ingrate 299 

To a Violet Found on All Saints' Day, 262 

To Dan 315 

To E. H. K 204 

To Her 33 

ToJ. Q 3 8 

To Louise 154 

To the Eastern Shore 281 

To the Memory of Mary Young . . 189 

To the Road . 247 



CONTENTS 



To the South 292 

Trouble in de Kitchen 335 

Tryst, The 2-2 

Turning of the Babies in the Bed, The, 254 

Twell de Night is Pas' 320 

Twilight 312 

Two Little Boots 248 

Two Songs 147 

UNEXPRESSED 153 

Unlucky Apple, The 316 

Unsung Heroes, The 278 

VAGRANTS 224 

Valse, The 256 

Vengeance is Sweet 204 

Veteran, The 322 

Visitor, The 259 

Voice of the Banjo, The 226 

WADIN' IN DE CREEK 308 

Waiting 205 

"Warm Day in Winter, A 253 

Warrior's Prayer, The 225 

Way T'ings Come, De 301 



Weltschmertz 298 

W'en I Gits Home 277 

We Wear the Mask 184 

What's the Use 315 

When a Feller's Itching to be 

Spanked 329 

When All is Done 216 

When de Co'n Pone's Hot .... 171 

When Dey 'Listed Colored Soldiers . 265 

When Malindy Sings 190 

When Sam'l Sings 294 

When the Old Man Smokes .... 199 

Whip- Poor- Will and Katy-Did ... 270 

Whistling Sam 244 

Whittier 15 1 

Why Fades a Dream ? 187 

Wind and the Sea, The 179 

Winter's Approach 321 

Winter's Day, A 224 

Winter Song 303 

With the Lark 196 

Wooing, The 173 

Wraith, The ; . 269 

YESTERDAY AND TO-MORROW . . . 325 



PART III 

THE BEST STORIES OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 
A Family Feud . . 
Jimsella ..... 
The Walls of Jericho . 
How Brother Parker Fell From Grace 
Jim's Probation .... 
A Supper by Proxy . . . 
The Faith Cure Man . . ' . 
The Wisdom of Silence 
The Scapegoat . . , . 



339 
339 
355 
361 

373 
381 

39i 
400 
406 
4'4 



Illustrations 



Paul Laurence Dunbar Fronttsptece 

President Theodore Roosevelt Page 21 

Hon. John Hay ......... "22 

Mrs. Matilda Dunbar "27 

President William McKinley . . . . . " 28 

Dr. Henry A. Tobey "45 

William Dean Howelli "46 

Dr. William Bums . . . . . . . " 71 

Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll "72 

Hon. Frederick Douglass ......." 99 

Master Harry Barton Bogg, Jr. . . * . . " 100 

The Dunbar House . "119 

Mr. Dunbar's Desk "120 

Hon. Brand Whitlock . "129 

Mr. Dunbar's Library "130 

Oh, dere 's lots o' keer an* trouble . . . (f 149 

Male an* female, small an* big, 150 

Seen my lady home las' night . . - tf 1 69 

When de co'n pone's hot . . . . , " 170 

De plow's a-tumbhV down in de fiel* . . . . c 181 

O'er the fiejdfc with heavy tread "182 

Put dat music book away . * 191 

While Malindy sings . ** IO2 

Who's pappy 's darlin* ** 2OI 

Den you men's de mule's ol* ha'ness . . . " 202 

Po' little lamb ' 21 1 

Dat's my gal "212 

Beneaf de willers . " 219 

Chris'mu* is a-comiir ........" 220 

II 



12 ILLUSTRATIONS 

I lays sorrer on de she'f .. * a &* 2 33 
Mek de shadders on de wall .. 2 34 

Dese little boots " 2 49 

Come on walkin' wid me, Lucy 2 5 

My Mandy Lou . " 2 57 

Bring dat basket nighah > 2 5 8 

The colored band "263 

My 'Lias went to wah ." 2 ^4 

He toss his piccaninny .. 2 7 l 

She de only hoss fu' me . 2 7 2 

By a good ol' hick'ry fiah " z%3 

LIT Gal " 284 

Sam'l took a trip a-Sad'day " 2 95 

Don' fiddle dat chune no mo* . .." 296 
It's goin' to be a green Christmas . " 35 

Wen you says yo' " Now I lay me " " 56 

Dah de watah's gu'glin' "309 

Whut is mammy cookin' "310 

Dese eyes o' mine is wringin' wet . 3*7 

Des don' pet yo' worries 318 

Chile, Ps sholy blue ' 3 2 3 

In dat dreamland of delight . ."324 

A letter f'om de sweetes' little gal W 33 I 

I . . . git to t'inkin' of de pas' " 33 2 

Old Aunt Doshy .... . . " 353 

Mandy Mason ...... 354 

" Stan' still, stan' still, I say, an' see de salvation " . " 37 l 

His eyes were bright, and he was breathing quickly . 37 2 

Dat Jim " 3 8 9 

' Vou old scoundrel," said a well known voice " 39 



Introduction 

i irilNK I should scarcely trouble the reader with a 
special appeal in behalf of this book, if it had not 
specially appealed to me for reasons apart from the 
author's race, origin, and condition. The world is too 
old now, and I find myself too much of its mood, to care 
for the work of a poet because he is black, because his 
father and mother were slaves, because he was, before 
and after he began to write poems, an elevator-boy. 
These facts would certainly attract me to him as a man, 
if I knew him to have a literary ambition, but when it 
came to his literary art, I must judge it irrespective of 
these facts, and enjoy or endure it for what it was in 
itself. 

It seems to me that this was my experience with the 
poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar when I found it in 
another form, and in justice to him I cannot wish that it 
should be otherwise with his readers here. Still, it will 
legitimately interest those who like to know the causes, 
or, if these may not be known, the sources, of things, to 
learn that the father and mother of the first poet of his 
race in our language were negroes without admixture of 
white blood. The father escaped from slavery in Ken 
tucky to freedom in Canada, while there was still no hope 
of freedom otherwise ; but the mother was freed by the 
events of the civil war, and came North to Ohio, where 
their son was born at Dayton, and grew up with such 
chances and mischances for mental training as every- 

13 



I 4 INTRODUCTION 

where befall the children of the poor. He has told me 
that his father picked up the trade of a plasterer, and 
when he had taught himself to read, loved chiefly to read 
history. The boy's mother shared his passion for litera 
ture, with a special love of poetry, and after the father 
died she struggled on in more than the poverty she had 
shared with him. She could value the faculty which her son 
showed first in prose sketches and attempts at fiction, and 
she was proud of the praise and kindness they won him 
among the people of the town, where he has never been 
without the warmest and kindest friends. 

In fact, from every part of Ohio and from several cities 
of the adjoining States, there came letters in cordial ap 
preciation of the critical recognition which it was my 
pleasure no less than my duty to offer Paul Dunbar's 
work in another place. It seemed to me a happy omen 
for him that so many people who had known him, or 
known of him, were glad of a stranger's good word ; and 
it was gratifying to see that at home he was esteemed for 
the things he had done rather than because as the son of 
negro slaves he had done them. If a prophet is often 
without honor in his own country, it surely is nothing 
against him when he has it. In this case it deprived me 
of the glory of a discoverer ; but that is sometimes a bar 
ren joy, and I am always willing to forego it. 

What struck me in reading Mr. Dunbar's poetry was 
what had already struck his friends in Ohio and Indiana, 
in Kentucky and Illinois. They had felt, as I felt, that 
however gifted his race had proven itself in music, in 
oratory, in several of the other arts, here was the first in 
stance of an American negro who had evinced innate dis 
tinction in literature. In my criticism of his book I had 



INTRODUCTION 15 

alleged Dumas in France, and I had forgetfully failed to 
allege the far greater Pushkin in Russia ; but these were 
both mulattoes, who might have been supposed to derive 
their qualities from white blood vastly more artistic than 
ours, and who were the creatures of an environment more 
favorable to their literary development. So far as I 
could remember, Paul Dunbar was the only man of pure 
African blood and of American civilization to feel the 
negro life aesthetically and express it lyrically. It seemed 
to me that this had come to its most modern conscious 
ness in him, and that his brilliant and unique achievement 
was to have studied the American negro objectively, and 
to have represented him as he found him to be, with 
humor, with sympathy, and yet with what the reader 
must instinctively feel to be entire truthfulness. I said 
that a race which had come to this effect in any member 
of it, had attained civilization in him, and I permitted my 
self the imaginative prophecy that the hostilities and the 
prejudices which had so long constrained his race were 
destined to vanish in the arts ; that these were to be the 
final proof that God had made of one blood all nations 
of men. I thought his merits positive and not compar 
ative ; and I held that if his black poems had been writ 
ten by a white man, I should not have found them less 
admirable. I accepted them as an evidence of the essen 
tial unity of the human race, which does not think or feel 
black in one and white in another, but humanly in all. 

Yet it appeared to me then, and it appears to me now, 
that there is a precious difference of temperament be 
tween the races which it would be a great pity ever to 
lose, and that this is best preserved and most charmingly 
suggested by Mr. Dunbar in those pieces of his where he 



16 INTRODUCTION 

studies the moods and traits of his race in its own accent 
of our English. We call such pieces dialect pieces for 
want of some closer phrase, but they are really not dia 
lect so much as delightful personal attempts and failures 
for the written and spoken language. In nothing is his 
essentially refined and delicate art so well shown as in 
these pieces, which, as I ventured to say, describe the 
range between appetite and emotion, with certain lifts far 
beyond and above it, which is the range of the race. He 
reveals in these a finely ironical perception of the negro's 
limitations, with a tenderness for them which I think so 
very rare as to be almost quite new. I should say, per 
haps, that it was this humorous quality which Mr. Dun- 
bar had added to our literature, and it would be this 
which would most distinguish him, now and hereafter. 
It is something that one feels in nearly all the dialect 
pieces ; and I hope that in the present collection he has 
kept all of these in his earlier volume, and added others 
to them. But the contents of this book are wholly of his 
own choosing, and I do not know how much or little he 
may have preferred the poems in literary English. Some 
of these I thought very good, and even more than very 
good, but not distinctively his contribution to the body of 
American poetry. What I mean is that several people 
might have written them ; but I do not know any one 
else at present who could quite have written the dialect 
pieces. These are divinations and reports of what passes 
in the hearts and minds of a lowly people whose poetry 
had hitherto been inarticulately expressed in music, but 
now finds, for the first time in our tongue, literary inter 
pretation of a very artistic completeness. 

I say the event is interesting, but how important it 



INTRODUCTION 17 

shall be can be determined only by Mr. Dunbar's future 
performance. I cannot undertake to prophesy concern 
ing this ; but if he should do nothing more than he has 
done, I should feel that he had made the strongest claim 
for the negro in English literature that the negro has yet 
made. He has at least produced something that, how 
ever we may critically disagree about it, we cannot well 
refuse to enjoy ; in more than one piece he has produced 
a work of art. 

W. D. HOWELLS. 



Foreword 

IN preparing this biography of Paul Laurence Dunbar 
for his publishers, his biographer was greatly helped and 
encouraged by many persons who knew and loved him. 
Among those to whom special thanks are due are the poet's 
mother, Mrs. Matilda Dunbar of Dayton, and his friends, 
Dr. H. A. Tobey, Mr. Charles Thatcher, Mayor Brand 
Whitlock, and Mr. Charles Cottrill of Toledo. 

Many letters of inquiry were written, and in almost 
every case prompt and helpful replies received. The 
other facts given or anecdotes told were found in letters 
written in the poet's own hand to intimate friends. 

It has been the steadfast purpose of his biographer to 
give to the world only such data as could be established 
in fact, and if she has failed in any instance the error was 
of the head and not the heart. 

It would have beem a pleasant thing to have reproduced 
all the appreciative letters that came in connection with 
the writing of this biography, but as that would have been 
impossible, it has seemed well to quote from two of the 
many. 

Having been told that upon one occasion, President 
Roosevelt had said, in speaking of Mr. Dunbar : 

" I like that young man, though I do not agree with 
his philosophy," a letter was addressed by Mr. Dunbar's 
biographer to the President. In response to this inquiry 
Mr. Roosevelt wrote as follows : 

19 



ao FOREWORD 

Oyster Bay, L. /., August 2, 
MY DEAR MRS. WIGGINS : 

I have your letter of the 27th. While I only had 
the pleasure of meeting Mr. Dunbar once or twice, I was 
a great admirer of his poetry and his prose. 

I do not believe I ever spoke such a sentence as that 
you quote in reference to him. I had been struck by the 
artistic merit of his work, and had not thought of what 
you speak of as its " philosophy " save in the sense that 
all really artistic work has a philosophy of application to 
the entire human race. 

Sincerely yours, 

THEODORE ROOSEVELT. 

Having observed by newspaper reports that Mr. James 
Lane Allen was a friend of the black poet's, though a 
man of southern birth, a letter was sent him by Mr. Dun- 
bar's biographer. His reply is beautifully characteristic, 
and the paragraph which he generously sends for use in 
the Life is quoted verbatim here 

" I think that Paul Laurence Dunbar reached, in some 
of his poems, the highest level that his race has yet at 
tained in lyric form, and feeling : and if it can be of serv 
ice to you to make use of this opinion, it is gladly at your 
service." JAMES LANE ALLEN. 

By all races and under all skies the poems of Paul 
Laurence Dunbar are being read, and a decade later the 
world will have learned to know, better than it does now, 
the loss it sustained when the greatest poet of his race, 
and one of the greatest of any race, passed into the 
silence and dropped the veil. 

To his biographer, who visited him many times, during 
the last two years of his life, the friendship of such a man 




Copyright, 1903, by C. M. Bell Photo Co. 

PRESIDENT THEODORE ROOSEVELT 

Who was a great admirer of Mr. Dunbar's literary productions, 
and who was a personal friend of the poet. 




HON. JOHN HAY 

Who being the American Ambassador to England at the time 
of Mr. Dunbar's visit to London, paid him marked attention, 
and arranged an entertainment at which Mr. Dunbar recited 
his poems before a highly intellectual and cultured audience. 



FOREWORD 23 

meant more than mere prose may tell. After a visit to 
the poet, when he was particularly cheerful and full of 
hope, these lines " wrote themselves down " as a slight 
appreciation of the privilege of calling on Paul Laurence 
Dunbar. 

I come from the home of a poet, 

Who wove me, with exquisite art, 
A cloak of the threads of his fancy 
Rich 'broidered with flowers of the heart. 

Oh, wonderful cloak that he wove me, 

For, under its magical spell, 
I heard in the lilt of a linnet 

An anthem of infinite swell. 

I sat 'mid the fragrance of roses, 

Tho' never a rose blossomed there, 
And perfume of jasmine flowers mingled 

With violet scents in the air. 

Life's lowly were laureled with verses, 

And sceptred were honor and worth, 
While cabins became, through the poet, 

Fair homes of the lords of the earth. 

The plane, where life's humble ones labor 

In sorrow and sadness untold, 
Shone forth in my eyes' quickened vision, 

A field of the fabric of gold. 

With sorrow, blest cloak, I relinquished 

Thy influence, sweet and ideal, 
For a world where the Real is called "fancy," 

And fancied things only are " real." 

Lida Keck Wiggins. 



PART I 
Life of Paul Laurence Dunbar 



CHAPTER I 
BIRTH AND PARENTAGE 

AT Dayton, Ohio, in the year 1871, Mrs. Matilda 
Murphy, an ex-slave, was married to Joshua Dunbar, 
who, having escaped to Canada before the war, had later 
enlisted in the Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Infantry, and was, 
at the time of his marriage, an old man. Neither Joshua 
Dunbar nor his wife could read or write, but both had ardent 
ambitions to know more of the world and of the achieve 
ments of their fellow men. Matilda Dunbar' s master was 
a cultured gentleman of Lexington, Kentucky, and as a 
little girl, she was allowed to sit at his feet and listen as 
he read aloud to his wife from the great writers. Espe 
cially was she delighted when he read poetry the music 
of it, the rhythm and the imagery fired her imagination 
and left an unfading impression upon her mind. It was 
always with regret and sometimes with a hidden tear that 
little Matilda left her seat on the floor at her master's knee 
and retired to bed. She dared not express a wish to re 
main she was only a slave child and was not expected 

24 



26 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

to have opinions of her own. During her girlhood and 
even after she went to Dayton, Ohio, and married her 
first husband, Mr. Murphy, she still loved to hear verses 
read and was a very capable judge of the merits of a 
metrical composition. After her marriage with Joshua 
Dunbar, she learned from school-children, whom she coaxed 
into her humble home, the coveted letters of the alpha 
bet. One by one she mastered them, and then began 
spelling out words, and finally sentences. Her husband, 
although well advanced in years, taught himself reading, 
and after long hours spent at his trade, which was that of 
a plasterer, he read universal history and biography. 

In 1872 this pair became the parents of a boy baby. 
When the momentous question of " naming the baby " 
came to be discussed, Mr. Dunbar insisted that the child 
be called Paul. His young wife thought the name too 
" old-fashioned " for a baby. Mr. Dunbar had a quaint 
and formal manner of addressing his wife, and upon this 
occasion said : 

" Matilda Madam, don't you know that the Bible says 
Paul was a great man ? This child will be great some 
day and do you honor." 

Thus the question was settled, and the child was chris 
tened Paul Laurence, the Laurence being in compliment 
to a Dayton friend. The father of Paul Dunbar proved 
a prophet. The boy was a genius. At as early an age 
as seven years he wrote his first bit of verse. It was a 
child's poem and naturally expressed childish sentiment, 
but even then the flickerings of a great talent were ap 
parent. There had to be a beginning, and to those who 
view this short life from first to last it would almost seem 
chat the young poet knew his work must be done quickly, 




MRS. MATILDA DUNBAR 
The poet's mother, who as a child was held in slavery. 




ivou, uy c. fa.ia.vi 

PRESIDENT WILLIAM McKINLEY 

Who conferred on Mr. Dunbar the honor of a commission to 
act^as aide with rank of Colonel in his inaugural parade. 
Mr. Dunbar accepted the invitation and rode in the procession. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 29 

as the time was short. His soul was old when his body 
came into the world. 

At school, Paul Dunbar was a diligent pupil, his fa 
vorite studies being spelling, grammar and literature. It 
is to the everlasting credit of his teachers that they en 
couraged him in his writing, and praised the little poems 
which he carried to them in a bashful way. Perchance if 
they had been indifferent to these early attempts, the shrink 
ing lad would never have had courage to go forward. 
Timidity and modesty marked his bearing through life. 

When in high school he edited The High School Times, 
a monthly publication issued by the pupils of the Steele 
High School. This work was done with so much tact 
and evinced such extraordinary talent that many an older 
head predicted the boy's future renown. 

In 1891 he graduated from the high school with hon 
ors, and the class song composed by him was sung at the 
commencement exercises. 

Commencement meant to Paul Dunbar the beginning of 
his hard struggle for existence. His father having died in 
1884, it devolved upon the boy to support his mother. 
It is doubtful if in all history a child were ever more faith 
ful and loyal to a mother than this young poet. While 
yet in school he had assisted her in her humble tasks as 
a washerwoman, and carried home the clothes to her 
patrons. He did odd jobs about hotels and other places, 
and was always willing and eager to lend a helpful hand. 
His graduation over, Dunbar sought regular work. Hav 
ing obtained an education, he quite naturally hoped for 
better things than mere menial employment. He was 
destined to meet with disappointment. On every hand 
his color told against him, and at last in sheer despair. 



30 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

he was compelled to accept a position as elevator boy in 
the Callahan Building at Dayton. Here he earned four 
dollars a week, upon which to support his mother and 
himself. Many a young man, possessing such a sensi 
tive soul, would have recoiled from so humble an occu 
pation. Not so with this budding genius. With brave 
heart he set about his task, determined to gain recogni 
tion later. There were few flowers in his path and many 
cruel thorns. He gathered the roses, inhaled their fra 
grance, and immortalized their beauty in verse, and the 
thorns he bore bravely as a part of human life. Thus 
he learned early to be a philosopher, and in consequence 
a great poet. Every moment that could be snatched 
from his busy hours was utilized in improving his brilliant 
mind. His soul, attuned to the infinite music which is ever 
to be heard even among most unfavorable surroundings, 
detected a melody in the grating of the elevator cables 
and the thud of the car as it stopped for passengers. 
The people he served were of lively interest to the lad, 
and into very ordinary faces his artistic mind painted un- 
guessed nobility and beauty. His humble home, his dear 
mother and his beloved black people formed the all- 
sufficient inspiration for his earlier dialect poems. Many 
of these were stories told by his mother, as the family 
sat before the fire on winter nights, but he always added 
a touch of quaint philosophy, or a breath of pathos, 
which lifted them above the level of folk-lore and gave 
them a dignity and depth which were all his own. The 
best things he wrote in those early days were the poems 
which were couched in classic English, and the produc 
tion of such verses proved far more than his dialect the 
remarkable scope of his mentality. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 31 

In 1892, when the Western Association of Writers met 
at Dayton, Mrs. Truesdale, one of Dunbar's former 
teachers, brought about an invitation for him to deliver 
the address of welcome. The printed program did not 
contain the name of the person who was to give the 
address, but at the appointed hour, having secured a 
limited leave of absence from his elevator, young Dunbar 
went to the hall. He entered as a shadow, walked grace 
fully down the aisle, and mounted the rostrum. He was 
introduced to the audience by Dr. John Clark Ridpath 
and delivered the " welcome " in metrical form, written 
in the best of English and full of haunting melody. His 
manner of reading was almost as wonderful as his com 
position, and the cultured audience was delighted and 
amazed. As quickly as he came he disappeared, and 
hurried back to his work. The members of the associ 
ation were convinced that they had been listening to a 
genius ; and many inquiries were made concerning the 
lad. He was later made a member of the Association. 

The following day Dr. James Newton Matthews, Mr. 
Will Pfrimmer and Dr. Ridpath went to the Callahan 
Building and sought him out. They found him at his 
post of duty and by his side in the elevator were a late 
copy of the Century Magazine^ a lexicon, a scratch tablet 
and a pencil. Dunbar, writing to a friend of this meet 
ing said : 

" My embarrassment was terrible. In the midst of a 
sentence, perhaps, a ring would come from the top of the 
building for the elevator, and I would have to excuse 
myself and run up after passengers." 

Dr. Matthews questioned Dunbar concerning his life, 
and secured copies of a number of his poems. A few 



3^ THE LIFE AND WORKS 

weeks later he wrote a press-letter about the young poet 
and quoted these poems. This letter was published in 
many of the leading newspapers in America and England. 
A copy of it fell into the hands of James Whitcomb 
Riley, who after reading the verses, wrote the young poet 
a letter in which he called him " his chirping friend," and 
praised his work, particularly the one entitled " Drowsy 
Day." This letter was one of Dunbar's treasures and 
he kept it all his life. 



CHAPTER II 
"OAK AND IVY" 

THE years 1892 a^-1 1893 were memorable in the life 
of Paul Laurence Dunbar. Encouraged by a number of 
men, who promised to supply financial support, the 
young man began to have ambitions to publish a book 
of his poems. One evening, after a hard day on the 
elevator, he went to his home, and said to his mother : 

" Ma, where are those papers I asked you to save for 
me?" The " papers " to which he referred were man 
uscript and newspaper copies of his poems. His mother, 
having but little room in their tiny home, utilized the 
kitchen for dining-room as well, and on the table in the 
middle room, Paul had piled his papers during the years 
of high school. His mother allowed the pile to grow, 
though she did not know that it contained his manu 
scripts, and thought that the papers to which he referred 
were his botany sheets and things of that kind. Finally, 
being criticised by her neighbors for allowing such a 
stack of papers to lie on her table, she gathered them 
all together, and put them in a large box under the old 
fashioned " safe," in her kitchen. So, when her son came 
home that particular evening and asked anxiously for his 
" papers," she said : 

" They're out there under the safe." 

Dunbar selected from the pile a little bundle, which he 
carried away with him next morning, saying, " Ma, I'm 
going to publish a book." 

33 



34 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

He went to the office of the United Brethren Publish 
ing House and unfolded his plans to the agent of that 
institution. His " friends " who had promised financial 
backing, had laughed at him when he asked them to 
make their word good, so he had to approach the pub 
lisher empty-handed. Here again he met with disap 
pointment. They would not " take the risk," and unless 
he could secure $125.00 to pay for the books they would 
not undertake their publication. One hundred and 
twenty-five dollars 1 They might as well have asked for 
a thousand. Poor Dunbar, unable to conceal his disap 
pointment, was leaving the house with a sad countenance, 
wholly discouraged. At this juncture, Mr. William 
Blacher, the business manager of the concern, noticing 
his disheartened appearance, called him to his desk and 
said : 

" What's the matter, Paul ?" 

"Oh, I wanted to have a volume of poems printed, 
but the house can't trust me, and I can never get $125.00 
to pay for it in advance." 

Mr. Blacher's heart was touched. He knew the boy, 
and appreciated him. He had read his verses, and 
knew that they were " real poems," truly inspired. He 
told young Dunbar that he would stand between him and 
the house for the amount required, and that the book 
would be published for the Christmas holidays. 

The boy's bright face was aglow with happiness when 
he reached his mother's home that night, and there were 
tears of joy in his eyes when he said : 

" Oh, ma, they're going to print my book." 

Several weeks later, one snowy morning, there came 
a rap at the door of the Dunbar home. Mrs. Dunbar, 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 35 

wiping her hands free of suds on her apron, opened the 
door. A man stood outside with a large package of 
books for " Mr. Paul Dunbar." 

" These are a few of Mr. Dunbar's books/' he said. 
" And, by the way, what is this Dunbar ? Is he a doctor, 
a lawyer, a preacher, or what ? " 

His mother modestly replied " Who ? Paul ? Why 
Paul is just an elevator boy, and a poet." 

In less than two weeks after the appearance of the 
little volume which was entitled " Oak and Ivy Poems,' 1 
Paul Dunbar again approached the desk of Mr. Blacher. 
This time he walked with a confident tread, and reaching 
into his pocket, produced the exact amount of his indebt 
edness, one hundred and twenty-five dollars ! The boy 
had sold enough books while going up and down in his 
elevator to pay for the whole edition ! 

Soon after this Judge Dustin, of the Common Pleas 
Court, became interested in the lad, and gave him a po 
sition as page at the Dayton Court House. He also 
gave Dunbar a chance to read law. 

About this time, a review of his book, " Oak and Ivy," 
appeared in the Toledo Blade, and several of his poems 
were reproduced. Among these was his " Drowsy Day." 
This article and the poems attracted the attention of Mr. 
Charles Thatcher, a rising attorney of Toledo, who 
wrote to Dunbar, asking him to send a copy of " Oak 
and Ivy," and to tell him something of his life. Mr. 
Dunbar answered this letter from Richmond, Indiana, 
where he had been invited by one of the most prominent 
ladies of that city, to come and read a poem at a church 
social. He said that there was very little to tell of his 
early life, as it had been uneventful, and that he had been 



36 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

running an elevator in Dayton at $4.00 per week, and 
out of his earnings attempting to support himself and 
his widowed mother, and to pay for the little home which 
he had bought through the building and loan association, 
but that the bulk of his payments went for interest. He 
also said that he expected to go to Detroit in the near 
future, as a friend was trying to arrange a reading for 
him there. Mr. Thatcher answered the letter immedi 
ately, and asked him to stop off at Toledo on his way to 
Detroit, as he wished to meet him personally. 

April 15, 1893, Dunbar went to Toledo, on his way 
to Detroit, and called at the office of the attorney, who 
was immediately impressed with his gentlemanly bearing 
and with his desire to secure an education. 

Mr. Thatcher was impressed by the earnest expression 
of the young man's face, and with his evident honesty of 
purpose. After considerable conversation, he suggested 
to Dunbar that he might secure several gentlemen to join 
him and arrange to loan him an amount each year, 
necessary to meet his expenses while in college : and 
that if this were done, he could give his note to each per 
son who advanced money, with a view to paying the 
sum when he was able. He placed the matter be 
fore Dunbar as a business proposition, and not in the 
light of charity. The poet did not hesitate a moment. 
He promptly declined the offer, saying with admirable 
pride, although with due appreciation of his friend's 
kindness : 

" I feel that I can accomplish it alone, and very much 
prefer to do so, if I am able." 

He went to Detroit, and gave readings, which added 
to his reputation as a reader and a poet While there he 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 37 

received a telegram from Mr. Thatcher to come back by 
way of Toledo, and to be prepared to recite for the West 
End Club the following Wednesday evening. Dunbar 
wrote his new patron, thanking him, and saying : "I 
am studying hard for Wednesday night, and hope I shall 
please the members of the West End Club." This club 
had been recently organized and once a week some per 
son delivered a lecture or a paper. That night it so hap 
pened that Dr. W. C. Chapman, of Toledo, who had 
lately returned from a trip South, was on the program 
for a paper. Its title was " The Negro in the South." 
The doctor did not know that Dunbar was to appear 
later, nor did he know that he was in the audience. He 
indulged in severe criticisms of the negro, accusing him 
of laziness, but added that there were noted exceptions to 
the rule, and referred to Paul Laurence Dunbar. When, 
a little later, it was announced that " Paul Laurence Dun- 
bar " would " favor the club with several original selec 
tions," the doctor was covered with embarrassment. The 
young black man rose with dignity and said : 

" I will give you one number which I had not intended 
reciting when I came : it is entitled, < An Ode to Ethi 
opia.' " 

One would have thought that he was a lawyer de 
fending a man for his life. He seemed to feel that an at 
tack had been made upon his race and that he was its 
sole defender. The zeal and ardor with which he recited 
showed that his soul was in the theme. His eyes 
flashed, his white teeth gleamed, and his whole person 
was a-tremble with emotion. After the recital he said to 
Mr. Thatcher : 

" I do not know but that I showed too much spirit in 



38 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

rendering ' An Ode to Ethiopia/ but I could not 
help it." 

All who heard him that night were impressed with his 
genius, and touched by the fact that a boy of twenty had 
taken up the fight to defend a race numbering more than 
six millions. Of himself he might well have been speak 
ing when, in the last stanza of the Ode, he cried : 

" Go on and up ! Our souls and eyes 
Shall follow thy continuous rise : 

Our ears shall list thy story 
From bards who from thy root shall spring 
And proudly tune their lyres to sing 

Of Ethiopia's glory." 



CHAPTER III 

THE WORLD'S FAIR "A 'SPECIAL PROVIDENCE"* 

AT the opening of the World's Columbian Exposition 
an opportunity came for young Dunbar to go to Chicago. 
At first he hesitated, not wishing to leave his mother 
alone. Mrs. Dunbar, feeling that the fair would be an 
education in itself for her boy, insisted upon his going. 
When all was in readiness, and the hour had come to say 
good-bye, he leaned on the mantelpiece and sobbed like 
a child, saying : 

" Oh, ma, I don't want to go it is such a wicked city : 
I know I shall learn a great deal but I'm afraid to ven 
ture. I don't want to go." 

His mother, choking down her own tears, talked to her 
son, and finally overcame his mood. He went to Chi 
cago, and after several unsuccessful attempts to obtain 
suitable employment, he was given a position by Hon. 
Fred Douglass, then in charge of the exhibit from 
Hayti. For this work Mr. Douglass paid Paul Dunbar 
$5.00 a week, out of his own pocket. After a while Dun- 
bar sent for his mother, who, always willing to follow her 
son, went to him. She was not too proud to work, and 
so did light housekeeping for a family there, thus making 
a bit of a home for her beloved child. 

On " Colored Folks' Day " at the fair, Paul Laurence 
Dunbar was called upon to render several " selections," 
before thousands of his own people. The verses were 
greatly appreciated, but when it was announced, by an 

39 



40 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

Episcopal clergyman from Washington, D. C., that the 
compositions were original, the applause was deafening. 
Fred Douglass, in speaking to an acquaintance about 
the young poet, during the time he was employed at the 
Haytian building, said : 

" I regard Paul Dunbar as the most promising young 
colored man in America." 

How much the young poet appreciated the friendship 
of the elder man may be learned by his beautiful tribute 
to him at the time of his death. The last stanza, which 
reads as follows, is characteristic : 

"Oh, Douglass, thou hast passed beyond the shore, 

But still thy voice is ringing o'er the gale ! 
Thou'st taught thy race how high her hopes may soar, 

And bade her seek the heights, nor fail. 
She will not fail, she heeds thy stirring cry, 
She knows thy guardian spirit will be nigh, 
And, rising from beneath the chast'ning rod, 
She stretches out her bleeding hands to God ! " 

After the fair, Mr. Dunbar and his mother returned to 
Dayton. Finding that it would be impossible to earn 
sufficient funds for a college course, the young man re 
luctantly wrote his Toledo friend, Mr. Thatcher, saying 
that he would reconsider his original decision, and accept 
the loan which had been offered him. The young at 
torney was quite willing to fulfil his part of the promise, 
but the other men, who had given their word, now had 
excuses to offer, and the project failed to materialize. 
This was a heart-breaking blow to poor Paul Dunbar, 
but he bore if bravely with indomitable will and more 
than human courage. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 41 

Very soon after this, he was approached by a man who 
claimed to be organizing a " Black Jenny Lind Concert 
Company," and who made the poet an offer to go with 
him as his reader. Heart and soul the young man went 
to work, writing new poems, committing others to mem 
ory, and preparing himself thoroughly in every way. 
But, just ten days before he was to have started on the 
road, he received word that the " company " had dis 
banded, and that his services would not be needed. 
Poor Dunbar was almost frantic : winter was approach 
ing : he had no funds with which to buy food and fuel : 
his clothing and that of his mother was insufficient, and 
he had given up everything in the way of work to go 
with the "Jenny Lind " organization. A call came to go 
to Detroit to give a reading, and this he did, but the 
affair proved to be one given for "charity," and Dunbar, 
poorer than any for whom the recital was given, was 
expected to give his services gratis. Thus impoverished 
he was compelled to write again to Toledo. This time, 
doubtless with a breaking heart, he wrote to Mr. Thatcher : 
" Could some of the money which was offered for my 
college course be sent me to relieve present embarrass 
ments ? I have no funds and no work, and a foreclosure 
is threatened on the little home I have been paying for 
through the Building & Loan Association." 

The appeal was not in vain : the money was sent, and 
the home saved. The relief, however, being only tem 
porary, the boy poet soon grew desperate and wrote to a 
friend under date of November yth, 1894 : 

" There is only one thing left to be done, and I am too 
big a coward to do that." Small wonder that thoughts 
of suicide should come to this sensitive soul when every 



42 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

avenue of honest pursuit was closed against him. 
Truly 



Ever) ? door is barred with gold, 
And opens but to golden keys," 



and poor Paul Dunbar didn't have the keys and in ad 
dition to that he was a negro ! Twice burdened indeed 
is he who carries upon his shoulders the load of poverty 
and the stigma of race prejudice. 

In the fall or winter of 1893, Miss Mary Reeve of 
Dayton, a woman of rare intellectuality, who reviewed 
books for magazines, went to Toledo to be the guest of 
Dr. and Mrs. H. A. Tobey at the Toledo State Hospital. 
Dr. Tobey was at that time superintendent of the insti 
tution, and is one of America's greatest experts on 
insanity. He is a man of broad mind, universal sympa 
thies and decidedly democratic ideals. Miss Reeve and 
he discussed many of the vital problems of the day, and 
upon one occasion the doctor said that the only question 
he ever asked about any person was: "What is there 
in the individual, regardless of creed, nationality or race." 
His companion replied : 

"I suspect then that you would be interested in a 
negro boy we have down in Dayton. I dori't know 
much of him myself, but my sister, Mrs. Conover (this 
is the Mrs. Frank Conover to whom Mr. Dunbar after 
wards dedicated his collection of poems entitled " Lyrics 
of Sunshine and Shadow " ) says he has written some 
very wonderful things." 

" I would not be interested in him," replied the doctor, 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 43 

" because he is a negro : I would only be interested in 
him for what he is." 

A little later Miss Reeve sent the doctor a copy of 
Dunbar' s first book, " Oak and Ivy." He read the little 
poems casually, not giving them much thought, and was 
not especially impressed. He went to Dayton a few 
months later, however, and while there inquired about 
Paul Laurence Dunbar. He heard of his obscure origin, 
his hardships and his hopeless condition. He also 
learned that the boy had been faithfully helping his 
mother in her humble tasks as a laundress : that he had 
graduated from high school : had held a position as ele 
vator boy, and that he had ambitions to study law. All 
this appealed to Dr. Tobey. His sympathies were en 
listed for the boy because he was making such a noble 
struggle. When he returned home he sought again the 
little volume, " Oak and Ivy," and this time, being in 
closer touch with its author, he saw new beauty in the 
lines. Several of the poems he read over and over, each 
time finding greater depths and truths almost sublime. 
Finally, one Sunday evening, after going over the book 
once more, he wrote a letter to the author, enclosing a 
sum of money, and asking that the number of books for 
which the amount would pay be sent him, as he wished 
to distribute them among his friends. He also spoke 
many encouraging words to the young poet, and ex 
pressed a desire to be of service to him if that were 
possible. He did not receive a reply from Mr. Dunbar 
for three or four days, and then came the answer. This 
letter is so remarkable in many ways, and is such a rev 
elation of the character of the young man at that time, 
that it is given verbatim below : 



44 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

Dayton, Ohio, July ijth, 1895. 
MY DEAR DR. TOBEY: 

If it is a rule that tardiness in the acknowledgment 
of favors argues lack of appreciation of them, you may 
set it down that the rule has gone wrong in this case. 
Your letter and its enclosure was a sunburst out of a 
very dark and unpromising cloud. Let me tell you the 
circumstances and see if you do not think that you came 
to me somewhat in the role of a " special providence." 

The time for the meeting of the Western Association 
of Writers was at hand. I am a member and thought 
that certain advantages might come to me by attending. 
All day Saturday and all day Sunday I tried every means 
to secure funds to go. I tried every known place, and at 
last gave up and went to bed Sunday nig 1 ^ in despair. 
But strangely I could not sleep, so about half-past eleven 
I arose and between then and 2 A. M., wrote the paper 
which I was booked to read at the Association. Then, 
still with no suggestion of any possibility of attending 
the meeting, I returned to bed and went to sleep about 
four o'clock. Three hours later came your letter with the 
check that took me to the desired place. I do not think 
that I spent the money unwisely, for besides the pleasure 
of intercourse with kindred spirits which should have 
been sufficient motive, I believe that there were several 
practical advantages which I derived from the trip, 
whence I have just returned. 

I wish I could thank you for the kindness that prompted 
your action ; I care not in whose name it was done, 
whether in Christ's, Mahomet's or Buddha's. The thing 
Jhat concerned me, the fact that made the act a good and 
noble one was that it was done. 

Yes, I am tied down and have been by menial labor, 
and any escape from it so far has only been a brief respite 
that made a return to the drudgery doubly hard. But I 
am glad to say that for the past two or three years I 
have been able to keep my mother from the hard toil by 




DR. HENRY A. TOBEY 

To whom Mr Dunbar dedicated his "Folks from Dixie," and 
had possibly the greatest influence of any 
' person upon the poet's life and work. 




WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS 

Whose article in Harper's Weekly gave Mr. Dunbar his first 
introduction into the great world of letters. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 47 

which she raised and educated me. But it has been anc* 
is a struggle. 

Your informant was mistaken as to my aspirations. I 
did once want to be a lawyer, but that ambition has long 
since died out before the all-absorbing desire to be a 
worthy singer of the songs of God and nature. To be 
able to interpret my own people through song and story, 
and to prove to the many that after all we are more 
human than African. And to this end I have hoped year 
after year to be able to go to Washington, New York, 
Boston and Philadelphia where I might see our northern 
negro at his best, before seeing his brother in the South : 
but it has been denied me. 

I hope, if possible, to spend the coming year in college, 
chiefly to learn how and what to study in order to culti 
vate my vein. But I have my home responsibilities and 
unless I am able to make sufficient to meet them I shall 
be unable to accomplish my purpose. To do this I have 
for some time been giving readings from my verses to 
audiences mostly of my own people. But as my work 
has been confined to the smaller towns generally the re 
sult has not been satisfactory. 

Perhaps I have laid my case too plainly and openly be 
fore you, but you seem to display a disposition to aid me, 
and I am so grateful that I cannot but be confidential. 
Then beside, a physician does not want to take a case 
when there is reticence in regard to the real phases of it 
And so I have been plain. Sincerely, 

PAUL L. DUNBAR, 

140 Ziegler Street, 

Dayton, Ohio. 



CHAPTER IV 

MAJORS AND MINORS 

IN August, 1895, Dr. Tobey wrote the young poet, in 
viting him to come to the Institution at Toledo and read 
for the patients. Having, in the meantime, learned that 
Mr. Charles Cottrill, a brilliant young colored man of 
Toledo, was a family friend of the Dunbars, Dr. Tobey 
insisted on having him at the hospital to formally intro 
duce the poet. A carriage was sent to meet Mr. Dun- 
bar at the railway station, and Dr. Tobey and Mr. Cot- 
trill stood at a window, awaiting its return. When it 
came back and young Dunbar alighted, the doctor ex 
claimed : 

" Thank God, he's black 1 " 

His companion, being of a much lighter color than 
Dunbar, was momentarily offended, but the doctor re 
deemed himself by adding : ; 

" Whatever genius he may have cannot be attributed to 
the white blood he may have in him." 

In the autumn of the same year, Dr. Tobey sent a 
second* invitation to Paul Dunbar to come to Toledo and 
give a reading at the Asylum. The doctor having 
learned of Mr. Charles Thatcher's great interest in and 
friendship for the Dayton boy, asked the attorney to be 
his guest at this recital. Thus Dunbar's two great friends 
joined hands for his future welfare. 

48 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 49 

At this second recital Mr. Dunbar read poems which 
were new to his Toledo friends, and which had not been 
published in " Oak and Ivy/' 

They talked with him at the close of the program, and 
found that he cherished hopes of getting a second book 
published at Dayton on the same terms as the first. 
Under his arrangement with the Dayton house he did 
not own the plates of his book, but when he secured 
orders for a number of volumes, the firm would bind them 
for him, from the loose sheets kept on hand. 

His two friends told him that they would assume the finan 
cial part of the new publication, and that when the books 
were printed they would belong to the author. Dunbar 
was very happy over this arrangement and set about im 
mediately to find a Toledo publisher. He finally arranged 
in a very businesslike way, with the Hadley & Hadley 
Printing Company to publish an edition of 1,000 copies 
of a second book. This little volume was called " Majors 
and Minors," and contains many of the finest things 
he ever wrote. His mind was not mature, then, as it 
was in later efforts, but his thoughts were honest, pure 
and fearless, and there was not the slightest trace of 
over-polish or artificiality. Mr. Dunbar was so con 
scientious that very few of the poems which had ap 
peared in his first book, were reprinted. He said, con 
cerning the matter : 

" Some poets get out * new ' books that are largely 
composed of poems that have been published before. I 
do not believe that such a practice is right." 

The poet hoped to have this book ready for the Christ 
mas holidays of 1895, but to his great disappointment, 
it did not appear until early the following year. 



50 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

During the days which preceded the publication of 
" Majors and Minors," and before the binders began work, 
Dr. Tobey was so anxious to possess the poems in printed 
form that he went to the office of Hadley & Hadley, se 
cured an unbound volume, and eagerly cut the leaves 
with his pocket knife. 

So many of the vital questions of Paul Laurence Dun- 
bar's life were settled seemingly by mere accident, or at 
least remarkably strange coincidences ! The very day 
that Dr. Tobey came into possession of this first copy of 
" Majors and Minors," he was called into professional con 
sultation in the city, which made it necessary for him to re 
main at a hotel over night. At this hotel he met a friend 
who was fond of poetry, and with him Dr. Tobey sat in 
the office reading Dunbar's verses until almost midnight. 
As they stepped to the desk to get their keys, the acjtor, 
James O'Neal and his wife and Mr. Nixon, who was 
O'Neal's leading man in " Monte Christo," then being 
played in Toledo, came in. Dr. Tobey 's friend intro 
duced the actors to him. Mr. O'Neal being very weary, 
excused himself, and retired. Mr. Nixon lingered. 

" I know," said Dr. Tobey, " that you actor folks are 
always being bored by people wanting you to read and 
give opinions of poems, but I have something here that I 
wish you would read, if you will." 

Mr. Nixon politely took the crude little copy of " Majors 
and Minors," and began reading " When Sleep Comes 
Down to Soothe the Weary Eyes." At first he read the 
poem quietly, leaning over the counter. Then he read it 
aloud then he gave it a dramatic rendition, his face 
showing his delight and surprise at the beauty and depth 
of the lines. He read other poems, and until three 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 51 

o'clock the following morning, remained on his feet, por 
ing over the poems of a poor and almost unknown negro 
boy. He then said : 

" Dr. Tobey, I thank you for giving me this oppor 
tunity : in my opinion no poet has written such verses 
since Poe." 

" Majors and Minors " was soon published, and Dunbar 
went to Toledo to try to sell his books. Naturally 
shrinking and unnaturally timid, he met with poor suc 
cess. To the great, unfeeling, uncaring public he was 
simply a shabby negro 'book agent" for whom they had 
no time nor interest. His friends sent him to their 
friends, but almost always he met with discouragement. 
The average person thought : " What do I want with a 
' nigger's ' book ? " 

He said when speaking of the book-agent experiences 
to his friends : " As a rule, if I can get through the 
front office, and meet the men to whom you send me, 
they are courteous and kind." 

With a soul as sensitive as a delicate flower the young 
bard was ill-fitted for so hard a role as that of a book- 
agent. It seemed that fate chose for this black singer 
the hardest lot she could devise. He had borne burdens 
all his life, but this was too heavy for him, and one night, 
after an unusually discouraging day, poor Dunbar went 
to see his friend, Dr. Tobey. 

" Well, my boy, how goes the battle ? " 

" Oh, doctor," replied Dunbar, with unbidden tears 
streaming down his cheeks, " I never can offer to sell an 
other book to any man." 

" Paul, why don't you make up a speech ? " 

" Oh," he replied, " I have tried to do that, but my 



52 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

tongue cleaves to the roof of my mouth, and I cannot 
say a word." 

The doctor, though full of sympathy, replied : 
" You're no good book agent. I was down town to 
day for a few hours and I sold three of your books to as 
many of the most prominent men of Toledo on condi 
tion that you deliver them in person and make the ac 
quaintance of each of the purchasers." 

.That same evening Dunbar, in his childlike way said, 
as though confessing a misdemeanor to a parent : 
. " I ought not to have done it, I suppose, but I spent 
fifty cents to see ' Shore Acres ' last night." That sum 
took him to the upper gallery in a back row of seats. " I 
saw it once before, and I could not resist the temptation. 
It is a poem from beginning to end. Have you seen it, 
doctor?" 

"No, but my wife and I are going to-morrow 
night." 

Dunbar answered : " Don't fail." 
The doctor, as though suddenly inspired, said : 
" Paul, I'm glad you spoke of that play. From what 
I have heard of the author, Mr. Herne, I believe he would 
be interested in what you have done and are doing. I 
want you to take one of your books with your compli 
ments, down to the Boody House, and leave it with the 
night clerk for Mr. Herne." The clerk, a Mr. Childs, 
had learned of Dunbar through Mr. Nixon's readings 
upon the night previously described in these pages. 
When this matter had been agreed upon between Mr. 
Dunbar and the doctor, the latter left him for a few mo 
ments and went down to the public office of the Institu 
tion. A representative of one of the greater New York 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 53 

dailies was at the time a guest of Dr. Tobey and his 
family. Addressing him, Dr. Tobey said : 

" Mr. T , with your permission, I'm going to bring 

down here and introduce to you the most wonderful man 
you ever met." 

The newspaper man looked somewhat incredulous, but 
knowing Dr. Tobey's word could be relied upon, replied 
that he should be delighted to meet the wonderful indi 
vidual to whom he referred. 

His host then went in search of Paul Dunbar, and not 
telling him what he had said to the New York man, 
brought him in and introduced them. If the scribe had 
been incredulous before he was even more so now when 
he saw a slender, bashful and shabbily dressed negro 
walk in with Dr. Tobey. Introductions over, Dr. Tobey 
said : 

" Paul, I have been telling this gentleman something 
about you and I want you to recite for us a few of your 
poems." 

Dunbar rose and in rising seemed to shake off the self- 
consciousness and restraint that had been upon him. His 
face grew radiant with the beautiful thoughts to which he 
gave utterance, and he read a number of his very finest 
verses with inimitable skill. 

When he had finished, the New York man compli 
mented him, and thanked him profusely for the enter 
tainment he had afforded. Then as soon as he could, he 
called Dr. Tobey aside and said : 

" Dr. Tobey, you have introduced me to the most won 
derful man I ever met. His poems are sublime and his 
interpretation faultless. I can never thank you enough 
for having given me a chance to meet him." 



54 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

The next evening, in obedience to Dr. Tobey's request, 
Mr. Dunbar carried his little book to the hotel, and hav 
ing inscribed it to Mr. Herne, would have left it there. 
It so chanced, however, that Mr. Herne had sought an 
other hotel, where he could have greater quiet, and the 
Boody House clerk suggested to Dunbar that he take the 
book and give it to Mr. Herne, personally. This Dunbar 
said he would do, and the next morning went to Mr. 
Herne's hotel. In describing this incident in later years, 
Mr. Dunbar said : 

" I approached the hotel with fear and trembling and 
must confess that I was greatly relieved to find that Mr. 
Herne was out." 

He took the book back to the clerk at the Boody 
House, who kindly volunteered to see that it reached Mr. 
Herne. This he did, taking it himself to the clerk of the 
other hotel, and leaving it for the actor. 

That was on Friday, and the following Sunday after 
noon the poet went out to the hospital, all aglow with joy 
over a letter which he had received from Mr. Herne. It 
read as follows : 



Detroit, Mich. 
MY DEAR MR. DUNBAR : 

While at Toledo, a copy of your poems was left 
at my hotel by a Mr. Childs. I tried very hard to find 
Mr. Childs to learn more of you. Your poems are won 
derful. I shall acquaint William Dean Howells and other 
literary people with them. They are new to me and they 
may be to them. 

I send you by this same mail some things done by my 
daughter, Julia A. Herne. She is at school in Boston. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 55 

Her scribblings may interest you. I would like your 
opinion. . . . 

A am an actor and a dramatist. My latest work 
" Shore Acres " you may have heard of. If it comes your 
way, I want you to see it, whether I am with it or not. 
How I wish I knew you personally ! I wish you all the 
good fortune that you can wish for yourself. 
Yours very truly, 

JAMES A. HERNE. 

Later in that same good year of 1896 Paul Dunbar 
met a friend who was destined to be one of the stars of 
hope in his literary sky. Dr. Tobey, ever alert to the in 
terests of his young friend, wrote to Colonel Robert G. 
Ingersoll in New York, and sent him a copy of " Majors 
and Minors," saying : 

" I know you are too busy a man to read all the poems 
in this book, so I take the liberty of marking a number 
which I consider the stronger ones* I do not profess to 
be literary, but think I probably have ordinary human 
feeling and common sense, and I would like you to read 
over the poems I have marked, and which I think un 
usual. If after reading them you feel the same way, it 
would be a great consolation to Mr. Dunbar in his pov 
erty and obscurity if you would write a letter of com 
mendation." 

Ten days later the doctor received the following reply : 

No. 220 Madison Avenue, 

April, 1896, New York City 
MY DEAR DR. TOBEY: 



At last I got the time to read the poems of 
Some of them are really wonderful full of poetrv 



56 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

and philosophy. I am astonished at their depth and 
subtlety. Dunbar is a thinker. " The Mystery " is a 
poem worthy of the greatest. It is absolutely true, and 
proves that its author is a profound and thoughtful man. 
So the " Dirge " is very tender, dainty, intense and beau 
tiful. " Ere Sleep Comes Down to Soothe the Weary 
Eyes " is a wonderful poem : the fifth verse is perfect. So 
" He Had His Dream " is very fine and many others. 

I have only time to say that Dunbar is a genius. Now, 
I ask what can be done for him ? I would like to help. 

Thanking you for the book, I remain 
Yours always, 

R. G. INGERSOLL. 

When one considers the youthfulness of the heart and 
hand that penned the poems to which Mr. Ingersoll re 
ferred, one is filled with wonder and amaze. It will not 
be out of place to quote here that " perfect " fifth verse 
of "When Sleep Comes Down to Soothe the Weary 
Eyes." It is as profound as " Thanatopsis " and as 
musical as " Hiawatha" or any of the " standard " poems 
of the world : 

"Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes 

How questioneth the soul that other soul, 
The inner sense that neither cheats nor lies, 

But self exposes unto self, a scroll 
Full writ with all life's acts, unwise or wise, 

In characters indelible and known : 
So trembling with the shock of sad surprise 

The soul doth view its awful self alone, 
Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary eyes." 



CHAPTER V 
A REMARKABLE BIRTHDAY PRESENT 

TRUE to his promise, Mr. Herne sent a copy of " Majors 
and Minors " to William Dean Howells, who was soon im 
pressed (to quote part of a recent letter to the author of 
this biography) " by the little countrified volume, which 
inwardly was full of a new world." 

Modesty is a hall mark of genius. Dunbar had it in a 
superlative degree, and that Mr. Howells possesses the 
same beautiful trait is evident when one reads the next 
sentence of the letter written his biographer under date 
-of June i, 1906 : 

" I want to say that many western friends fully felt the 
quality of Dunbar's work before I had the good luck of 
drawing notice to it in a prominent place, and so far as 
any credit is concerned, it is they who deserve it." 

The " prominent place " to which Mr. Howells refers 
was Harper's Weekly. In the same issue which gave an 
account of William McKinley's first nomination at 
Minneapolis, which issue had an enormous circulation, 
appeared a full-page review of Paul Laurence Dunbar's 
little book " Majors and Minors," and an unprecedented 
appreciation of the young man's work by Mr. Howells. 
He could not have found a more opportune time for in 
troducing the young poet to the reading world. No 
longer could the sweet singer of Ethiopia be spoken of as 
obscure or unknown. Like the sun which suddenly slips 

57 



5 8 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

from behind a sombre cloud and floods the world with 
glory, so the name of Paul Laurence Dunbar, swept into 
sight and passed majestically before the reviewing stand 
of the entire reading world. He literally retired one 
night unknown, and woke at the dawn of his twenty- 
fourth birthday to find himself a famous man. Advert 
ently or inadvertently Mr. Ho wells had chosen June 27, 
1896, for the appearance of his article, thus presenting the 
young man with the most magnificent birthday present 
he could ever hope to receive. 

Having concluded his critique of " Majors and Minors," 
Mr. Howells remembering that the boy was possibly in 
need of something more substantial than appreciative 
phrases, dear as they would be, added : 

" I am sorry that I cannot give the publisher, as well as 
the author of this significant little book ; but I may say 
that it is printed by Hadley & Hadley of Toledo, Ohio." 

Immediately letters began pouring into the office of the 
printers, many were addressed to Dunbar, asking for his 
photograph and every imaginable kind of query. Others 
ordered the book. Among the orders was one from the 
American Consul at Athens, Greece. In fact demands 
came from all parts of the world. 

When Mr. Dunbar, having been told, by a friend, of 
the Harpers article, bought a copy at a Dayton news 
stand he was almost overwhelmed with emotion, and, as 
he described it : " Didn't know whether to laugh or cry, 
but guessed he did a little of each." 

Mr. James Lane Allen became interested in Paul Dun- 
bar and his poems about this time, and called the atten 
tion of several New York magazine editors and reviewers 
to the verses of the negro bard. These men gave the 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 59 

young poet flattering notices and helped to make perma 
nent his new-made fame. 

He and his mother had occasion to be absent from 
home for a few days about this time, and while they were 
away the postman slipped the mail through the slats of a 
front window shutter. When Mrs. Dunbar attempted to 
open this shutter, two hundred letters snowed down upon 
the floor. Many of these contained money for copies of 
" Majors and Minors." All exhibited a complimentary 
interest in the youthful poet and his wonderful verses. 

On the following Fourth of July, Dr. Tobey, real 
izing that to insane persons, holidays are the most un 
happy occasions of all, arranged, as was his custom, to 
hold an elaborate celebration. 

He invited Paul Laurence Dunbar and his mother to 
come to Toledo, as he wished him to give a number of 
readings. Unknown to the poet, he also invited fifty of 
sixty prominent persons from Toledo and elsewhere. 
Among these guests was the late Governor Foster. When 
Mr. Dunbar and his mother arrived at the Institution 
they were given an affectionate greeting by Dr. Tobey 
and his family, and then the doctor told them of the dis 
tinguished guests who had already arrived and were 
awaiting them. 

" It has all come at once, Paul. Mr. Howells has made 
you famous," said the doctor, with an arm about the 
younger man's shoulders. " They all want to meet you 
now. Those who ' made fun ' of you because of your 
color and your poverty are now eager to clasp your hand : 
those who were indifferent are now enthusiastic. This is 
going to be the testing day of your life. I hope you will 



60 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

bear good fortune and popularity as well and as bravely 
as you have met your disappointments and your humili 
ations. If so, that will indeed be a proof of greatness." 

It was with much difficulty that Dr. and Mrs. Tobey 
were able to prevail upon Mrs. Dunbar to go down to the 
recital. She could not understand why people wanted to 
meet her ! So little do many of the meek souls who are 
really worth while, realize their importance in the world. 
It is a question whether Dunbar would ever have been a 
poet, had it not been for his mother's passion for poetry, 
and the prenatal influence of this love upon her child. 
Many times she said to her son : 

" Oh, Paul, if I coulc 7 have had an education I might 
have written poetry too." And loyal Paul would reply 
with love <-j nd reverence beaming from his eyes, " Well, 
ma, you gave me the talent, and I am writing the songs 
for you." Some such conversation may have been the 
inspiration of his lovely poem " When Malindy Sings " 
which he dedicated to her. 

By many eloquent persuasions, that memorable Fourth 
of July morning, Matilda Dunbar was led to overcome 
her timidity and go down to the drawing-room. Had she 
cherished a remaining doubt as to her probable welcome 
there, it was instantly set at rest. Every one wanted to 
meet the " little black mammy " of the poet, and all gave 
her a hearty handshake and kindly word, and Paul's 
honors were divided that day with his beloved mother. 

Dunbar recited many poems that morning among 
them his " Ships that Pass in the Night " and of his ren 
dition of that poem Governor Foster afterwards re 
marked : 

" Of all things I ever heard, I never listened to any* 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 61 

thing so impressive as his rendition of the ' Ships that 
Pass in the Night.' " 

That night, after the long, triumphant day was done, 
the poet sitting alone with his thoughts and his fame, 
poured out his soul to God in verse. The entire poem he 
called " The Crisis." The last stanza shows, as in a mir 
ror, the honest soul of the young author and his ardent 
desire to be true to his better self, and thus a saviour to 
his race 



" Mere human strength may stand ill-fortune's frown, 

So I prevailed, for human strength was mine : 
But from the killing strength of great renown 
Naught may protect me save a strength divine. 

Help me, O Lord, in this my trembling cause, 
I scorn men's curses, but I dread applause I M 



CHAPTER VI 
DUNBAR'S " MANAGER " 

SOON after the appearance of Mr. Howells' article in 
Harpers Weekly (June 27, 1896), Mr. Dunbar called at 
the office of a friend in Toledo, who volunteered to write 
Mr. Howells concerning a suitable manager for the poet- 
reader. Mr. Dunbar accepted this offer, and a three or 
four page letter was written Mr. Howells. The novelist 
soon responded, giving the name of a gentleman who he 
thought would be satisfactory to Mr. Dunbar and his 
friends. This gentleman also received a note from Mr, 
Howells, and at once began correspondence with the 
Toledo man in regard to Dunbar. He was anxious to 
have the poet come to New York, and his Toledo friend 
wrote the prospective manager that if he would take care 
of the young man after his arrival in New York, his fare 
to that city would be forthcoming, but that the boy had 
no money. 

Scarcely a year had elapsed since Dunbar, obscure and 
unread, had written his then unknown friend, Dr. Tobey, 
that he had " hoped year after year to be able to go to 
Washington, New York, Boston and Philadelphia but 
that it had been denied him." He had now given a suc 
cessful evening of his readings at the national capital and 
was about to start for New York. 

The prospective " manager " wrote that he would pay 
his board while at the metropolis, and his Toledo friend, 

62 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 63 

as good as Ais word, sent Dunbar a generous check for 
his passage and suitable clothing. 

It seemed to the young man that all his good things 
came from Toledo, and he christened that city his 
" adopted home." With high hope he started eastward, 
and in a few days made the acquaintance of his manager. 

Feeling that duty, as well as desire, demanded that he 
call on William Dean Howells and thank him for the 
great kindness he had done him, the young poet went to 
Far Rockaway Beach, where the novelist was spending 
the summer at his cottage. 

With fluttering heart, Paul Dunbar approached the 
door and rang the bell. The maid who answered it, see 
ing only a very much embarrassed negro youth, was not 
particularly effusive, but left him standing while she car 
ried his card to Mr. Howells. One may imagine her 
surprise when the novelist, hurrying to the door, caught 
Dunbar's hand with one of his, and throwing an arm 
about the young man's shoulders said : 

" Come in : come in : I am so happy to see you and to 
meet you personally." 

Mr. Dunbar arrived at Far Rockaway soon after 
luncheon, but Mr. Howells kept him for tea and until 
midnight. Of that visit he has written to the author of 
this biography saying : " I am glad you are writing his 
life, and I shall look for it with true interest. Perhaps 
you may like to set down that Dunbar came to see me in 
my cottage at Far Rockaway, and took tea with us there. 
I thought him one of the most refined and modest men I 
had ever met, and truly a gentleman. 
" Yours sincerely, 

" WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS." 



64 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

Mr. Howells, being a genius and consequently an artist 
is " color-blind " so far as intellect and good breeding are 
concerned, and he could not have shown a royal guest 
more honor or deference than he gave the negro poet. 

When Dunbar was about to go, it was remarked that 
the night had grown chill. He had no overcoat, and Mr. 
Howells insisted upon putting his own coat upon his 
guest. The next -morning, Dunbar returned the coat 
with a note in which he said : "In wearing your coat, I 
felt very much like the long-eared animal in the fable of 
the ass clad in the lion's skin." 

Early in August, 1896, while Mr. Dunbar was still in 
New York, his friend, Mr. Charles Thatcher, of Toledo, 
met him in the metropolis. He also met Major Pond, who 
was about to become Mr. Dunbar' s manager, and asked 
him what he thought of the poet. The Major replied : 

" I had him come over to my house a few evenings 
ago, and there give a reading to about thirty invited 
guests. The ' white ' readers are not in it with him when 
it comes to delighting an audience. I want to make a 
contract to place him on the road for a period of two 
years, etc." 

Mr. Thatcher then learned from Mr. Dunbar that 
Major Pond had introduced him to several New York 
publishing houses, and that the manuscript for a third 
book of poems, which he had entitled " Lyrics of Lowly 
Life " had been left with Messrs. Dodd, Mead & Company. 

Mr. Thatcher went to Narragansett Pier in a few days 
after this, telling Mr. Dunbar to be ready to go there if he 
received word to that effect. He carried with him to the 
pier a copy of " Majors and Minors." He read a number of 
the verses to friends who were spending the summer at 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 65 

the New Matthewson Hotel there, and all expressed a de 
sire to meet the author, and to hear him recite. There 
were several southern people among those who made 
this request. A telegram was sent to Mr. Dun bar to 
come at once prepared to give a recital. The proprietor 
of the hotel donated the ballroom and the services of an 
orchestra for the occasion. 

Dunbar never appeared to better advantage than upon 
that particular evening. Among other things selected 
for the program was his dialect poem "The Cornstalk 
Fiddle." The orchestra accompanied him while he 
chanted the lilting lines, and when he came to the sixth 
stanza 

"Salute your partners," comes the call, 

" All join hands and circle round," 

" Grand train back," and " Balance all," 
Footsteps lightly spurn the ground. 

" Take your lady and balance down the middle," 
To the merry strains of the corn-stalk riddle, 

he acted out the various figures of the country dance de 
scribed. 

His lithe form, graceful as a gazelle's, glided about the 
stage, with a rhythm of movement which showed that 
his whole being responded to the music of the orchestra 
and to the beauty of his own conception. Every emotion 
depicted in the lines came out upon his face and found 
expression in his wonderful eyes. The audience went 
wild with excitement and the wine of their applause only 
served to stimulate his efforts. The recital was a great 
success, and the southern people who had been carried 
back to " old plantation days " by the vivid poem-pic 
tures and skilful acting of the wonderful negro boy, 
were the most enthusiastic of the audience. 



66 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

Before leaving Narragansett Pier, Mr. Dunbar was 
presented to the widow of Jefferson Davis, at her request. 
After t a brief conversation with the young man, Mrs. 
Davis, who had been unable to attend the recital, asked 
him to give her a few readings, as a " special favor ! " 
So delighted was this stately daughter of the " Old 
Dominion" that she gave her unstinted praise and ap 
plause when he finished. This scene is one worthy to go 
down in history as a signal triumph for the African race. 
A full-blooded negro reciting his own poems to the widow 
of Jeff Davis 1 Great things had indeed come out of 
Nazareth ! 

Delightful events followed one another in rapid succes 
sion in those days for Paul Dunbar. Before he went 
back to New York, Major Pond wrote him that Dodd, 
Mead & Company had accepted his manuscript, at a 
good price, and that if he desired they would advance 
him $400.00 on prospective royalties ! 

Resisting all temptations to spend this first large sum 
of money, according to his tastes, Mr. Dunbar paid it all 
out on debts which he felt that he owed to his friends who 
had " advanced " it to him. 

His arrangement with the new " manager " was not so 
satisfactory as it had promised to be, but Mr. Dunbar 
feeling that he needed such discipline, decided to go 
ahead with it, if possible. 

He and his mother, having taken up their residence in 
Chicago previous to his New York visit, Mr. Dunbar 
went there and resumed his readings. He also wrote 
many newspaper and magazine articles and numerous 
poems while in that city. 



CHAPTER VII 
ENGLAND 

IN January of 1897, Mr. Dunbar had an offer to go to 
England as a public entertainer with a daughter of his 
former New York manager, and feeling that this might 
be the only opportunity he would ever have of crossing 
the sea, he accepted the proposition, though the terms 
were hard and his manager extremely mercenary. Phil 
osophically he said : " They are going to make it hard 
for me, but I need the training, and I shall try to keep 
my upper lip well starched." 

On February 8th, Mr. Dunbar sailed for England, and 
in a letter written his mother on shipboard, he confided : 

" You will be surprised to hear that Alice Ruth Moore 
ran away from Boston, and came to bid me good-bye. 
She took everybody by storm. She was very much 
ashamed of having run away, but said she could not bear 
to have me go so far without bidding me good-bye. She 
is the brightest and sweetest little girl I have ever met, 
and I hope you will not think it is silly, but Alice and I 
are engaged. You know this is what I have wanted for 
two years." 

Thus, childlike and trustful, he wrote to his mother 
of the happy culmination of his first and only love affair. 
While in England he wrote again to his mother, saying 
he hoped to get " Alice to set the day," as soon as he re 
turned to America. 

Although his " manager " soon deserted him, Mr. Dun- 
bar found a warm and influential friend in the American 

67 



68 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

embassador, Hon. John Hay, who arranged an entertain 
ment at which Dunbar read several of his best poems be 
fore a number of the brightest men and women of Lon 
don. Other poems, having been set to music by promi 
nent English musicians, were sung by them at this recital. 

He was a guest at a banquet given by the great Savage 
Club of London, where he was asked to recite, and after 
the first number, was lifted bodily to the table, and en 
thusiastically encored. 

Writing of this occasion to a friend in America, Dun- 
bar said : 

" I have attended a banquet given by the great Savage 
Club of London. I was the guest of the secretary of the 
Royal Geological Society, and my host was more than 
gratified at the reception which I had when I was called 
upon to take part in the post-prandial program, as I re 
ceived two requests to come back. The audience was 
very critical, and if they did not like a speaker would hiss 
him down. 

" I have also been entertained at tea by Mr. and Mrs. 
Henry M. Stanley. I there met some very decent people, 
but the men, poor fellows, did not have eye-glasses enough 
to go around, and so each had one stuck in the corner of 
his eye ! " 

Concerning an evening's entertainment which Mr. Dun- 
bar gave at the Southplace Institute, a London paper car 
ried the following notice : 

" A large audience at the Southplace Institute, listened 
yesterday to Mr. Paul Laurence Dunbar' s recitations of 
some of his own poems, which have excited so much in 
terest among literary men in the United States. Mr. 
Dunbar is thought to be the first of his race who has thor- 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 69 

ougnly interpreted the dialect, spirit and humor of the 
American negro, and his performance was indeed unique. 
The pieces selected were from his ' Lyrics of Lowly Life/ 
one of these, ' When Malindy Sings,' being an artistic 
blending of drollery and of pathos. Another, ' Accounta 
bility/ represents the necessitarian philosophy of a 
stricken rogue : and a third was a pretty love-ballad. 
The poet made a very fine impression on all present." 

Paul Dunbar was never an idler, and although he would 
certainly have been justified in putting in his leisure 
hours, tramping about the interesting streets of old Lon 
don, and adding to his store of new-world knowledge a 
veneer of old-world mould and tradition, he conscien 
tiously remained at his poor lodgings, and wrote his first 
novel. By this act, he exhibited that desire to be provi 
dent which is so frequently lacking in members of his race. 
The book, written in London, was his first serious prose 
effort, and was entitled " The Uncalled." It was really a 
history of his own life. So few were the avenues open to 
an educated colored man, that it was thought only " nat 
ural" that Dunbar should turn to the ministry. His 
knowledge of negro ministers gave him to know that he 
was thoroughly capable in an intellectual way to cope 
with the best. Situated as he was, with the wolf of pov 
erty ever growling and threatening at his door it is 
greatly to the credit of the young man that he did not 
yield to the temptation of entering the ministry as a 
" means of support." But, if Paul Dunbar was anything 
in those early days, he was honest. He did not believe 
in eternal punishment, and he would not preach it 
Realizing that he had not received the divine " call," he 
would not go. His novel reflects the struggle he had 



70 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

and his final triumph. The book was dedicated to his 
fiancee, " Alice," who is the heroine of the story. 

It is painful to chronicle that at the very moment when 
Dunbar's recitals were about to bring him a few of the 
dollars of which he stood so sorely in need, his erstwhile 
" manager " returned and showing a contract of which she 
had never consented to give the poet a copy claimed all 
the proceeds 1 

Thus he was left penniless in a strange land. In this 
condition he was compelled to send home to America for 
funds for his return voyage. Money was cabled him, and 
he returned to America, poorer in purse, but considerably 
richer in sad and happy experiences. As he said in a let 
ter from London : 

" It amuses me to hear of the things the American 
papers are saying, when I am so halting over here be 
tween doubt and fear ! But let come what may, I have 
been to England 1 " 

As soon as Mr. Dunbar reached New York, he sold his 
novel to Lippincotfs Magazine. True to his innate hon 
esty, he pressed upon his friend who had cabled him 
funds, the amount he owed, though by so doing, he liter 
ally took the " bread out of his own mouth." 

" The Uncalled " received favorable comment, but not 
being in a popular vein did not prove especially success 
ful when issued later in book form. 

Viewing his English venture as a whole, one may not 
describe it better than did the poet himself, upon his re 
turn to America : 

" Do you know, disastrous as it was financially, I do 
not regret my trip. The last few weeks were a great 
compensation for all I suffered ! " 




DR. WILLIAM BURNS 

The young physician who was in constant attendance upon the 
poet during the last three years of his life, and whose sudden 
death was a terrible blow to Mr. Dunbar. They had been 
warm friends from childhood. 



n 




COLONEL ROBERT G. INGERSOLL 

Who, attracted by the merit of Mr. Dunbar's poems, expressed 

a desire to " help," and who secured for him a situation 

in the Congressional Library at Washington, D. C. 



CHAPTER VIII 
THE CONGRESSIONAL LIBRARY 

THE time had now arrived for Colonel Robert G. Inger- 
soll to make good his promise to " help." While Mr. 
Dunbar was in London, he received an encouraging let 
ter from the Colonel, advising him that he thought it 
likely he could secure a position for Mr. Dunbar in the 
Congressional Library. How well this promise was ful 
filled is shown by a paragraph in the records of the 
Library at Washington, which reads : 

" Paul Laurence Dunbar, appointed from New York to 
position assistant in Reading Room, Library of Congress, 
October i, 1897, at a salary of $720.00 per annum : re 
signed December 31, 1898, to give full time to his literary 
work." 

Mr. Daniel Murry, under whom Mr. Dunbar worked at 
the Library, wrote his biographer concerning the ap 
pointment as follows : 

"In 1897, Mr. Dunbar was made an assistant to me . 
that he might learn library methods and have, at the same 
time, one who would take an interest in his advancement. 
The late Colonel Robert Ingersoll was largely responsible 
for his taking the position, believing that it would afford 
him an opportunity to acquire information that could be 
turned to account in his literary career. . ." 

Under a dating of October u, 1897, Dunbar said, in 
a letter to a friend : 

6 73 



74 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

" I have landed the position at Washington. It is a 
small one, but it means a regular income, the which I 
have always so much wanted. . . . 

" I am home for the purpose of getting my mother 
ready for the Washington trip. Her health is very far 
from good, and I want her settled with me, as soon as 
possible. Must leave here Saturday night at the latest." 

While Mr. Dunbar was happy to have obtained regular 
employment, and went to his work with his native en 
thusiasm, it was with real regret that he said farewell to 
his childhood home at Dayton. Of this leave-taking he 
wrote while packing 

" I am at last at home getting things ready for our 
removal to the east. There are a good many dear mem 
ories clustering around this rickety old house that awake 
to life on the thought of leaving it permanently." 

In going to Washington and becoming identified with 
the brilliant life of the national capital, Paul Dunbar did 
not forget his Toledo friend, through whose influence all 
this happiness and good fortune reached him, and at the 
very beginning of his career at the Library he wrote that 
friend thanking him and saying : 

" My dear Dr. Tobey I shall show little of human 
gratitude if I fail to deserve the kindness you have 
shown." 

It was this ever-manifest spirit of loving gratitude ex 
hibited towards his benefactors that made them so eager 
and willing to do what they could to aid him. His heart, 
toward this particular friend, was always that of a trusting 
child. 

Having established his mother in a pretty home, Mr. 
Dunbar set conscientiously to work at the Library. The 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 75 

exacting duties were hard for one of his temperament, but 
he made a brave struggle to master the detail cheer 
fully. 

In December, 1897, he wrote an Ohio friend 

" I am working very hard these days, so if it is only for 
the idle that the devil runs his employment bureau, I have 
no need of his services." 

He has spoken of this year as " his pouring time " as so 
many offers of positions and so many requests for poems 
and stories " poured in " upon him. One of the flattering 
offers that came to him was the tender of a professorship 
in Literature and Rhetoric at Claflin University, South 
Carolina. He did not accept this, but was pleased to 
know that it had been offered him. The colored people 
of the country were anxious that he be given work which 
they thought would be consistent with his brilliant attain 
ments, and they did not think that the Library position 
was of any special credit to Paul Laurence Dunbar. But 
the poet, having " come up through great tribulation " 
wisely chose to stand by this post which insured him a 
" regular income," and afforded him such splendid oppor 
tunities for extending the scope of his knowledge. 

From the first Mr. Dunbar's articles were in demand by 
the Washington dailies, but these contributions were, for 
the most part, in prose and Paul Dunbar was essentially 
a poet. Of the newspaper efforts he said : " The age is 
materialistic. Verse isn't. I must be with the age. So, 
I am writing prose." 

This mood was not of long duration. As well try to 
compel the lark to ape the cackle of a chicken, as to guide 
Paul Dunbar's pen for long in the paths of prose. His 
work was very creditable, because whatever he did was 



76 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

done well, but to write thus was to " plod," and he pre 
ferred, as he so gracefully said in one of his poems : 

" To fling his poetical wings to the breeze, and soar in 
a song, etc." 

One of the notable song-poems written while he was in 
the capital city was the college song composed for 
Booker T. Washington's school at Tuskegee, Alabama. 

Almost a decade later, this was sung by a choir of fif 
teen hundred student voices upon the occasion of the 
twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of Tuskegee In 
stitute. 

The verses called " Tuskegee Song," and set to the 
music of " Fair Harvard," follow : 

Tuskegee, thou pride of the swift-growing South, 

We pay thee our homage to-day, 
For the worth of thy teaching, the joy of thy care, 

And the good we have known 'neath thy sway. 

Oh, long-striving mother of diligent sons, 

And of daughters whose strength is their pride, 

We will love thee forever, and ever shall walk 
Thro' the oncoming years at thy side. 

Thy hand we have held up the difficult steeps, 

When painful and slow was the pace, 
And onward and upward we've labored with thee 

For the glory of God and our race. 

The fields smile to greet us, the forests are glad, 

The ring of the anvil and hoe 
Have a music as thrilling and sweet as a harp 

Which thou taught us to hear and know. 

Oh, Mother Tuskegee, thou shinest to-day 

As a gem in the fairest of lands, 
Thou gavest the heaven -blessed power to see 

The worth of our minds and our hands. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 77 

We thank thee, we bless thee, we pray for thee years 

Imploring, with grateful accord 
Full fruit for thy striving, time longer to strive, 

Sweet love and true labor's reward. 

The last line of the fifth stanza " The worth of our 
minds and our hands " voices in a phrase the dominant 
note in Paul Dunbar' s philosophy. First educate the 
mind, then the hand. Many of his contemporaries in 
both races teach otherwise, believing that the negro's 
" hand " should first be given cunning, then his brain 
cultivated. Dunbar very shrewdly exclaimed upon one 
occasion : 

" How could his hand be educated without his head to 
direct it ? " And again, in speaking to a young woman 
who had come to interview him, he said, in quick re 
sponse to her exclamation : 

" The head and hand must work together." 

"Why do you say that? So many people will not 
agree with me when I tell them that." 

Thus, even in the Tuskegee song, Mr. Dunbar incul 
cates his theory. He fully appreciated Tuskegee, how 
ever, and its famous founder, and once wrote a very ex 
cellent tribute to Mr. Washington. 

The days at the Library were the most strenuous in the 
life of Paul Laurence Dunbar. After his office hours 
were over, he would work far into the night at his writ 
ing. Before he had been in Washington six months he 
had written all the stories found in his prose book " Folks 
from Dixie," which appeared, singly, in the Cosmopolitan 
and then were collected into book form. No one can 
read these beautiful southern stories without realizing the 



78 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

sense of justice to each race which Mr. Dunbar inculcates. 
There are no bitter tirades against the masters : no exag 
gerated pen pictures of down-trodden negroes : he simply 
tells the truth ! 

This book was dedicated to Dr. H. A. Tobey, to whom 
in sending a first copy of the volume the poet wrote : 

" I am afraid that the wish to express my gratitude to 
you and something of the pleasure and pride I take in 
our friendship has led me to take some liberties with your 
name. But I can only hope that you will take the dedi 
cation in the spirit in which it is offered that of grati 
tude, friendship and respect for the man who has brought 
light to so many of my dark hours." 

Having reached a place where he felt justified in such 
a step, he was married on March 6, 1898, to his boyhood 
sweetheart, Miss Alice Ruth Moore of New Orleans. Miss 
Moore was a young woman of great talents and beauty, 
and had gained no enviable position in the world of letters. 
Perhaps the poet's own words, quoted from a letter sent 
to Dr. Tobey at the time, will describe the affair better 
than any others could do : as it shows his childlike love 
and trust for his old friend, and his desire that the 
" doctor " be pleased. 

Washington, D. C. , '98. 

DEAR DOCTOR : 

I am almost afraid to write you, but out it must 
come. I am married ! 

I would have consulted you, but the matter was very 
quickly done. 

People, my wife's parents and others were doing 
everything to separate us. She was worried and harassed 
until she was ill. So she telegraphed me and I went to 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 79 

New York. We were married Sunday night by the 
bishop (Bishop Potter of the Episcopal Church a great 
friend of the poet's) but hope to keep it secret for a while, 
as she does not wish to give up her school. 

Everything is clean and honorable and save for the fear 
of separation there was no compulsion to the step. 
I hope you will not think I have been too rash. 

Sincerely yours, 

PAUL L. DUNBAR. 

Dr. Tobey answered this letter in a few days, and Dun- 
bar again wrote him 

Washington, D. C., April 6, 1898. 
MY DEAR DR. TOREY : 

I was very glad to get your letter and find that you 
did not think ill of my step. I must confess I was very 
anxious as to how you would take it. As to mother I 
told her before it took place she was in the secret, though 
not at first willing. All has come around all right now 
and my wife will be with me on the i8th. My announce 
ment cards will then go out. Mother is quite enthusiastic 
and my new mother-in-law has yielded and gracefully ac 
cepted the situation. 

Aren't you saying I had better have got out of debt be 
fore taking a wife ? Honest, aren't you ? Well, see her 
and know her and I won't need to make any plea for my 
self. Her own personality will do that. 

To his biographer to whom was given the privilege of 
reading letters covering a long period of years, it was 
very evident that those bearing dates of his first married 
years contained the only mention of real happiness that 
came into his shadowed life. 

The confining and exacting work at the Library, to 
gether with the dust from the books made distressing in 
roads upon the never abundant health of the poet The 



80 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

consuming thirst for knowledge and the irrepressible de 
sire to create new beauties for the art galleries of literature, 
were out of proportion to his physical resources, and in 
the autumn of 1898 he resigned his library position to de 
vote what strength he could spare to literary and orator 
ical effort. 

While still employed at the Library, Mr. Dunbar was 
called to New York to attend a meeting at which the 
higher education of the negro was discussed. He was 
invited to recite and did so. A gentleman from Boston, 
who had gone to the meeting, intending to discourage the 
higher education of the negro, immediately subscribed 
one thousand dollars for a fund towards that end. Dun- 
bar afterwards smilingly said to an acquaintance, when re 
lating this incident : 

" Little did he know that I had never been beyond the 
high schools of Dayton." 

In the audience was a gentleman from Albany, who on 
his return told Mrs. Merrill a prominent society woman 
of Albany, New York, that when she desired to give 
another public function she could not do better than to 
secure Dunbar, and before the poet left New York, a tele 
gram was sent to his Washington address by Mrs. Mer 
rill, asking terms for a recital. Up to that time $50.00 
had been the amount received. His wife, appreciating 
that he must be wanted badly, answered : 

" One hundred dollars." The offer was accepted, and 
the time fixed for the recital. 

When Mr. Dunbar alighted at the Albany station, upon 
the occasion of this second visit to that city, he handed 
the check for his trunk to a negro porter. The man 
looked at him in poorly concealed surprise and said : 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 8l 

" Wha' do yo' want dat trunk to go ? " 

Dunbar answered, " To the Kenmore Hotel." 

" Yo' gwine to wuk dah ? " 

" No," said the poet, and started on. 

Again he was addressed by the porter: "Wha 1 yo' 
want dat trunk to go ? " 

" To the Kenmore," said Dunbar with dignity. 

The man stared at him incredulously and for the third 
time ventured a question : " What yo' gwine to do dah ? " 

Dunbar answered, " Stop." 

The porter's amazement had now reached the superla 
tive degree but he regained his speech long enough to 
say : 

"Well, goon!" 

So did the shadow of prejudice ever fall across the path 
of poor Paul Dunbar. The negro porter is only a type. 
Having been held so long in the bonds of slavery, and 
having been taught from the cradle that the black man is 
his white brother's intellectual inferior, it is impossible for 
some of the race to realize the fact that there are excep 
tions to the rule. This truth was ever present in Dun- 
bar's mind, and once he exclaimed bitterly : 

" My position is most unfortunate. I am a black white 
man," and so he was. 

Upon reaching the Kenmore Hotel, Mr. Dunbar was 
shown to a suite of rooms, consisting of sitting-room, bed 
room and bath. Soon a negro waiter came to take his 
order for dinner, and looked at him in surprise. Then he 
said : 

" How did you get dese rooms ? Dese is de rooms dat 
Helen Gould occupied las' week. Guess Mis' Merrill 
done seed de pr'ietah." He would not have dared say 



82 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

such words to a white patron, regardless of his mental 
calibre, but here was one of the greatest geniuses that the 
world has known, insulted because of his color, by one of 
his own race 1 Blind, narrow, prejudiced humanity 1 
How small all this will look in the light of eternity ! 

This recital at Albany was one of the most successful 
that Mr. Dunbar had ever given, and brought him in 
touch with the best of Albany society, and with many of 
the leading men of the state. 

That Paul Dunbar made good use of the opportunities 
afforded at the Library for broadening the horizon of his 
mind was ever after evident. It was seldom, indeed, that 
a conversation on any important theme was inaugurated 
in his presence, that he was not able to join it intelligently. 
He made a thorough and unbiased study of race prob 
lems, and although he was always loyal to and hopeful 
for the man of pure African blood, and while he realized 
the wholesome results of centuries of refinement, educa 
tion and culture in the Caucasian, he was far too loyal and 
too honest not to realize that each race and ever)^ race 
has its own peculiar gifts and graces. Among his papers, 
found after he passed away, was a scrap on which he had 
written : 

4 ' It is one of the peculiar phases of Anglo-Saxon con 
ceit to refuse to believe that every black man does not 
want to be white." 

When Horace J. Rollin, the pioneer exponent of the 
ultimate wholesome and beneficent result of race-blending, 
embodied the evolutionary theory in his notable novel, 
" Yetta Segal/' Paul Dunbar, to whom the author sent a 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 83 

copy of the book, wrote a most remarkable letter, it is 
such a revelation of the depths of research which his 
plummet had sounded, and is couched in such character 
istically courteous, though cautious phrase, that it is given 
in full herewith : 

Library of Congress, 
Washington, D. C. y July 28, '98. 
MY DEAR MR. ROLLIN: 

The delay which I have allowed in answering 
your letter so long ago received, does not denote me 
truly ! It is all false in indicating that I am not greatly 
interested in your inquiry into the psychic phenomena of 
race blending. 

While so far I have found the observable result of 
race blending less strong than either of the parent races, 
yet, I can see how the cosmopolite of the future might 
be the combination of the best in all the divisions of the 
human family each race supplying what all the others 
lacked. 

Your letter has made me think, and I am glad to see 
such a work as yours coming from Ohio which has done 
too little in the scientific and literary world. 

I hope your work will have the success which I really 
believe its importance deserves. 

Thanking you for your good letter and asking your 
forgiveness for an unavoidable delay in answering, I am 
Sincerely yours, 

PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR. 



CHAPTER IX 

TUSKEGEE, THE SOUTH, BREAKING HEALTH 

IN February, 1899, Mr. Dunbar went to the Tuskegee 
School of Booker T. Washington, and while there gave a 
reading in the chapel to the students and teachers. He 
also gave a number of lectures on English composition 
before the two advanced classes of the school. 

The annual conference of negro farmers convened dur 
ing Mr. Dunbar's visit to Tuskegee, and he reported this 
for the Philadelphia Press. A story is told of a little in 
cident which occurred in connection with this convention. 
Mr. Washington is said to have gone to Mr. Dunbar's 
room the evening before the convention, and is quoted 
as having said, more in a spirit of mischief than earnest : 

" Paul, I want you to write me a poem of welcome to 
be read to-morrow." 

Dunbar, with a serious face and just the twinkle of a 
smile in his eyes, replied : 

"All right, sir, you shall have it." 

That night, Paul Dunbar burned the midnight oil, but 
next day when it came his turn to say a word of welcome 
to the members of the conference, he rose with alacrity, 
and stepping to the front of the stage, read a poem of 
such beauty and appropriateness that his audience was 
charmed. No congratulations were more extravagant 
than those of Booker T. Washington, for he alone knew 
that the poem was the product of the past twentv-four 
hours 1 

84 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 85 

Mr. Dunbar made a rather extensive tour of the south 
before going back to Washington. 

It will be remembered by the observant reader of this 
biography that in an early letter of Mr. Dunbar' s he said 
that he wished to make a thorough study of his black 
brother in the North before seeing him in the South. It 
is interesting and pleasing to reflect that Mr. Dunbar was 
one of the rare few, who, planning their life-work from 
the beginning, are able to carry these plans through as 
originally designed. 

Mr. Dunbar had certainly had ample opportunity for 
the study of the negro in the North before he made his 
itinerary of the southern states. His stories called " The 
Strength of Gideon," written south of Mason and Dixon's 
line, -and published in northern magazines, and a second 
book, published four years later, under title of " In Old 
Plantation Days," shows that he did not exhaust his fund 
of Dixie-folk lore in the " Strength of Gideon." 

Soon after Mr. Dunbar's return to Washington, in 
March, 1899, he received a very flattering call to come to 
Boston and read at the Hollis Street Theatre (at a meet 
ing held in the interests of Tuskegee Institute). He ac 
cepted, but that his strength was unequal to the effort is 
shown by a letter, written to an Ohio friend from West 
Medford, Mass., dated March 2oth, 1899 : 

" I am lying in bed ill and Mrs. Dunbar is kind enough 
to take down my letters for me. 

" My readings here have been very successful, the one 
at the Hollis Street Theatre, Boston, having quite a 
triumph. But they have been a little too much for me, 
and I am now suffering from a cold, fatigue and a bad 
throat. 



86 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

" I thank you for writing Mr. T. I hope I am not too 
poetical to take an interest in the realities of life of which 
he speaks. He may be sure I am doing what I can in 
my humble way for the betterment of my brother in the 
South." 

Mr. Dunbar's fourth book of verse " Lyrics of the 
Hearthside" came out in 1899, and was very appro 
priately dedicated to " Alice," his wife, who was also his 
amanuensis, his secretary and his wise counselor. 

In April of 1899, Mr. Dunbar read his poems at Lex 
ington, Kentucky, with great success. He then made 
preparations to go to Albany, where he was to have 
given a recital before a distinguished audience and to 
have been introduced by the Governor, Theodore Roose 
velt. 

With his doting mother and devoted wife he began the 
eastern journey, but when he reached New York, he was 
taken ill with pneumonia, and obliged to go to the home 
of an old friend of his own race, who lived in humble 
rooms on an upper floor of a shabby apartment building. 

As soon as Dunbar's friends learned of his serious ill 
ness, they began sending him messages, flowers and lux 
uries. They sought him out too, and called in person. 
Not wishing to disturb him, but being extremely anxious 
to know about his health, William Dean Howells went to 
his humble lodgings, and toiling up the stairs, inquired 
about him at the back door ! 

When he was able to hold a pen he wrote to his friends. 
In one of these letters he said : 

" I am going to trust myself to write, though I am 
pretty weak yet. . . . After leaving the hospital, my 
doctor insists that I must go to the Adirondacks, and 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 87 

stay there through October, then to Colorado. They 
think I am a millionaire 1 But there are pleasant things ! 
Yesterday Bishop Potter sent me two basket-loads of 
luxuries. To-day I received notice from the board of 
trustees (white) of Atlanta University (colored) that they 
had conferred on me the honorary degree of Master of 
Arts in recognition of my literary work. Of course it is 
an empty honor, but very pleasant." 

Three weeks later Mr. and Mrs. Dunbar went to Brod- 
head's Bridge, New York, where they might have the 
mountain air and the benefit of beautiful surroundings. 

Mr. Dunbar' s mother spent that summer in Hampton, 
Virginia. Concerning this outing of his mother's the 
poet wrote a friend : 

" Mother, I may have told you, is at Hampton, and 
thereby hangs a tale, which I think you can appreciate. 
When she first went down, the woman with whom she 
stopped charged her a very reasonable price. Then 
there was an influx of visitors, and inquiries poured in as 
to my health. When the landlady found out that she 
was the mother of the author she had read of, she raised 
the board. Sic Kama 1 " 

Although the poet went to the Catskills for recreation 
and quiet, his feverish desire to work gave him no rest, 
and according to his own account, he wrote and had ac 
cepted in the first month he was there, one three-thousand 
word article, two stories and three poems, and many 
other things not catalogued. 

E. C. Stedman wrote Mr. Dunbar asking permission to 
use some of his work in a new American Anthology, and 
this was readily given by the poet. 



88 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

Many persons suffering from pulmonary troubles have 
found relief in the balmy air of the Catskills, but poor 
Paul Dunbar was so little benefited that he was com 
pelled to take the much-dreaded journey to Colorado. 
Mrs. Matilda Dunbar returned from Virginia and accom 
panied her son and his wife on their western journey. 
Their first stop was at Denver, and Mr. Dunbar sent a 
note to Dr. Tobey, which is important in that it shows 
how Dunbar's fame had gone before him. 

Denver, Colorado, September 12, 'pp. 
MY DEAR DOCTOR : 

Here we are, the whole " kit and bilin' " in Denver, 
and already I feel considerably reconciled to my fate. I 
am well impressed with the town, though I have been 
here but a few hours. 

Only one thing or really, several things in one have 
bothered me the reporters. They have taken the house 
and I have not yet had time to rest from my journey. 

. . . The Denver Post wishes to pay my expenses 
if I will travel slowly over the state and give occasionally 
my impressions of it. They wired me at Chicago, and 
have sent two men to interview me since I have been 
there. They claim the trips would be healthful, that my 
wife could go along with the best accommodations, and 
that I only need do what I want in the way of writing. 
These people are the New York Journal of the west 1 

i 

In the early days of October, 1899, the Dunbars found 
a suitable home at Harmon, a small town near Denver. 
Mr. Dunbar described this temporary domicile as a 
" dainty little house, very pleasant and sunny." 

From Harmon he wrote, soon after going there, to an 
Ohio friend, " I have an old cob of a horse, and some kind 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 89 

of a buggy for me to jog in as the doctor forbids much 
walking and entirely prohibits bicycling." 

This " old cob of a horse " became so dear.to the poet 
that he immortalized her in his dialect poem " That oP 
mare of mine," for which he received a sum equal to half 
the price he paid for the mare. 

That Mr. Dunbar realized his cure could not be perma 
nent, but that he was determined to be patient and cheer 
ful is manifested by a few paragraphs in a Denver letter 
of his : 

" Well, it is something to sit down under the shadow of 
the Rocky Mountains even if one only goes there to die." 

" Have you been reading Stevenson's letters as they 
run in the Scribne^s Magazine ? There was a brave fel 
low for you, and I always feel stronger for reading his 
manly lines." 

He speaks in this same characteristic epistle of his 
health and of the doctors having examined his sputum, 
and says, " I too have looked upon the * little red hair-like 
devils' who are eating up my lungs. So many of us are 
cowards when we look into the cold, white eyes of death, 
and I suppose I am no better or braver than the rest of 
humanity." 

The life of Paul Laurence Dunbar while in Colorado 
was a long, losing fight for health. Hope and fear were 
alternate guests in his heart, but while his naturally 
optimistic spirit drank deep of the sunshine, his lungs 
constantly weakened by the ravages of the "little red 
devils" of disease could not assimilate the beneficent 
qualties of the light and air. 

As often as his strength would permit he lecited, 
many of the wealthiest homes of Denver being opened to 



90 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

him, and he also made a number of short trips to various 
other towns and cities. 

One of the stars in Dunbar's social firmament was the 
friendship for him of Major William Cooke Daniels, a 
young merchant of Denver. The young man was pas 
sionately fond of Paul Dunbar and of his poetry. 
Almost every day he rode out to see Dunbar, or sent his 
carriage and coachman for him to come to the palatial 
home in the city. But, Dunbar was proud and sensitive, 
and although he fairly worshiped young Daniels, we find 
him writing an Ohio friend 

" I must tell you more about this friend of mine some 
time. He is just two years my senior, but was Major in 
Lawton's Division, and commended for bravery and 
efficiency. He is a fine fellow, but I am going to termi 
nate my friendship with him. You will wonder why. 
Well he is immensely wealthy for his age, possessing 
something like two millions of dollars, and all the favors 
come from his side. I spend an afternoon each week 
with him. He has the finest private library in Denver, and 
he presses upon me the loan of expensive books. He 
wants to take me duck-shooting and provide everything. 
We smoke together and read and chat for hours, but the 
books and cigars are always his. When I was doing my 
new story, he actually took time from his business (the 
management of the finest department store here) to help 
me on a stampede scene. He is an enthusiast and I like 
him, but somehow I always feel a bit cheaper by his kind 
ness, though I know I should not, for he is very genuine." 

The friend to whom Dunbar wrote this letter wisely 
pointed out to him that Mr. Daniels was no doubt receiv 
ing as much as he gave, and that he doubtless prized the 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 9I 

poet's charming society more than silver or gold. It is 
therefore with satisfaction that we note the " new novel " 
called " The Love of Landry," dedicated to " my friend 
Major William Cooke Daniels." It is a Colorado novel, 
and shows how quickly and naturally Mr. Dunbar learned 
to write of the western plains and ranches. He was a 
veritable mental chameleon, taking on the exact color of 
his surroundings, but better still, he was able to transmit 
his impressions to paper so vividly that the characters 
and scenes stand out before the reader's vision as though 
painted on canvas. 



CHAPTER X 
BACK TO WASHINGTON 

IN the spring of 1900, the Dunbars went back to Wash 
ington. The Colorado trip did not accomplish for Mr. 
Dunbar's health what they had all hoped it might, but he 
returned to Washington, trusting that he should now be 
able to live there and make it his headquarters. Early in 
the summer, however, it was found necessary for him to 
" move on" again, and he and his wife went again to the 
Catskills. A rather pleasant summer was spent there, but 
the ravages of consumption had only been checked, and 
it was with a sinking heart that the gifted man returned 
once more to Washington. 

It has seemed right to quote just here a paragraph or 
two from an article which appeared in the March, 1906, 
issue of Talent Magazine. This quotation will explain at 
last an incident of which many of Mr. Dunbar's friends 
read with much surprise and regret at the time of its 
occurrence. 

While one must acknowledge, with the poet, that he 
made a grievous mistake, still this admission is tinged 
with a feeling of shame that American newspapers must 
needs have heralded the unfortunate affair all over the 
country. 

The incident to which Mr. Pearson of Talent refers 
happened late in the autumn of 1900. 

" It has been frequently reported in the public prints 
that Dunbar was a drunkard. Though it was founded on 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 93 

truth, it was not the whole truth. With a friend I had 
engaged Dunbar to give an evening of readings at Evans- 
ton, Illinois. We had thoroughly advertised the event, 
and a large audience from the University and the city 
were present to hear him. At eight o'clock, a messenger 
brought me word that he had broken a dinner engage 
ment at the Woman's College, and that no word had 
been received from him. After an anxious delay he ar 
rived a half hour late and with him were a nurse, a phy 
sician and his half-brother, Mr. Murphy. The first num 
ber or two could not be heard, but not until he had read 
one poem the second time did we suspect the true cause 
of his difficulty in speaking. His condition grew steadily 
worse, so that most of the people left in disgust. The 
report was passed about that he was intoxicated. The 
Chicago papers printed full accounts of the incident, and 
it was copied throughout the country. 

" The following letter which has never been published, 
explains the situation. 

" 321 Spruce St., Washington, D. C. 
" PROFESSOR P. M. PEARSON : 

" DEAR SIR : Now that I am at home and settled, 
I feel that an explanation is due you from me. I could 
not see you as you asked, because I was ashamed to. 
My brother went, but you were gone. 

" The clipping you sent is too nearly true to be an 
swered. I had been drinking. This had partially in 
toxicated me. The only injustice lies in the writer's not 
knowing that there was a cause behind it all, beyond mere 
inclination. On Friday afternoon I had a severe hemor 
rhage. This I was fool enough to try to conceal from my 
family, for, as I had had one the week before, I knew they 
would not want me to read. Well, I was nervously anx- 



94 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

ious not to disappoint you, and so I tried to bolster myself 
up on stimulants. It was the only way that I could have 
stood up at all. But I feel now that 1 had rather have dis 
appointed you wholly than to have disgraced myself and 
made you ashamed. 

" As to the program, I had utterly forgotten that there 
was a printed one. I am very sorry and ashamed, be 
cause I do not think that the cause excuses the act. 

" I have cancelled all my engagements and given up 
reading entirely. They are trying to force me back to 
Denver, but I am ill and discouraged, and don't care much 
what happens. 

" Don't think that this is an attempt at vindication. It 
is not. Try to forgive me as far as forgiveness is possible. 

" Sincerely yours, 

" PAUL L. DUNBAR. 

" P. S. I have not told you that I was under the doctor's 
care and in bed up until the very day I left here for Chi 
cago. There had been a similar flow, and I came against 
advice, and now I see the result. 



"Such an explanation silences criticism. But the re 
port has been widely circulated, and afterwards it was often 
revived, without cause." 

The winter of 1900-01 was spent with Washington as 
his permanent address, but even though his health would 
ill permit of it, he made a number of trips to various parts 
of the country to recite. 

On March ist, 1901, Mr. Dunbar received a parchment 
appointing him as aid with rank of colonel in the Inau 
gural Parade of President McKinley. Concerning this 
appointment, Mr. Dunbar said, several years later to his 
biographer, 

"When the document was brought to me, I refused 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 95 

positively to appear in the parade, as I did' not consider 
myself a sufficiently good horseman. So I sent the gen 
tleman away with that answer, but as soon as he was out 
of the house, my wife and mother made siege upon me, 
and compelled me to run after him. I remember the oc 
casion well, how I ran down my front steps in house- 
jacket and slippers and calling to my late visitor, told him 
that I had changed my mind, perforce." Mr. Dunbar 
appeared in the inaugural parade, three days afterwards. 

A month later finds him writing from Jacksonville, 
Florida, to a friend in the North : 

" Down here one finds my poems recited everywhere. 
Young men help themselves through school by speaking 
them, and the schools help their own funds by sending 
readers out with them to the winter hotels. Very largely 
I am out of it. Both my lungs and my throat are bad, 
and, from now on, it seems like merely a fighting race 
with Death. If this is to ba so, I feel like pulling my 
horse, and letting the white rider go in without a contest." 

Fooled by the false courage that alternates with despair 
in the lives of tuberculosis sufferers, Dunbar spent a hope 
ful summer, in spite of this spring-time discouragement. 
He even went so far as to buy a house and establish a 
beautiful home in Washington. But Fate did not intend 
that this darling child of Genius should enjoy for long 
any of the good things of life, and less than a year later, 
the most terrible tragedy of his life occurred. His home 
was broken up, and he left Washington forever. In such 
very personal and heart-touching matters it has always 
seemed to his biographer that the world should have no 
interest. This brilliant pair, having walked for several 



96 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

years together, at last came to a parting of the ways. 
Neither has spoken to say why they parted there, each 
going ever after alone and, an attempt at explanation 
would be unkind to the living and unjust to the dead. 
One of his friends has given his biographer a letter writ 
ten under date of July 27th, 1902, which being as much 
as the poet cared to reveal to a lifelong and trusted friend, 
should suffice even the most curious of those interested in 
the story of his life. He writes as follows : 

" You will be seriously shocked to hear that Mrs. Dun- 
bar and I are now living apart, and the beautiful home I 
had at Washington is a thing of the past. ... I am 
greatly discouraged and if I could do anything else, I 
should give up writing. Something within me seems to 
be dead. There is no spirit or energy left in me. My 
upper lip has taken on a droop." 

This letter is written from Chicago, where Mr. D unbar 
went, accompanied by his faithful little mother, when the 
crash came. 

Mr. Dunbar wrote his old friend, Mr. Charles Thatcher 
at Toledo, in December of 1902 

"My plans are few but definite. There is a mid 
winter's book of poems forthcoming ' Lyrics of Love 
and Laughter/ and an illustrated one for next fall. An 
Ohio novel is promised to Lippincotfs, and dialect 
stories and verses to various periodicals. Besides this I 
shall possibly read in the southwest during the latter part 
of Jar aary. My appearance is robust, but my cough is 
about as bad as it can be." 

Thus the unquenchable ambition of Paul Laurence 
Dunbar whipped the frail flesh to its labor and accom 
plished an almost unbelievable amount of work in those 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 97 

two years when his heart was broken and his spirit 
crushed. 

His days were not all cloudy, however, the sun shone 
sometimes and he was almost his old self again. 

A little story told his biographer by his mother, while 
the silent tears coursed down her cheeks, will serve to 
show how his hard lot was softened in at least one in 
stance. 

" I was sitting one morning," said Mrs. Dunbar, " on 
our front steps, when I saw a lady and a little boy ap 
proaching. Something told me that they were coming 
to our house. The boy carried a book, and when they 
came nearer I recognized it as one of my son's. Sure 
enough, they turned in at our steps and the lady said : 

" ' Is Mr. Dunbar living here?' 

" I replied, ' Yes.' 

" ' Could we get to see him ? ' 

" I asked them to come in, and I went to my son's 
room and summoned him. Paul was ill that morning, 
but he went down-stairs when he heard that a little boy 
wanted to see him. My son was very fond of children 
you know. 

" The lady introduced herself to my son as Mrs. Ada 
Barton Bogg and her son, Master Harry Barton Bogg. 
The boy told Paul that he had come to ask him to auto 
graph the book of poems he had just bought Of course 
Paul did it, and he and the boy held a very lively con 
versation. As they were leaving we overheard Harry 
say to his mother : 

" ' Why, mamma, he wasn't a bit like I thought he 
would be. I thought he would just sit up straight like 
he had a stick down his back, and never laugh at all. 1 



98 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

" Possibly an hour later, our door bell rang, and a box 
of flowers was handed in. The box was addressed to my 
son and contained a great bunch of gorgeous peonies 
with ' the boy's ' card. My son was so delighted that he 
put on his hat and went down town for a vase to put the 
flowers in, and wrote the child a letter beside." 

Out of this incident a correspondence sprang between 
the poet and the child, and a friendship was begun which 
lasted as long as Mr. Dunbar lived. So proud was the 
boy's mother of these letters that at the time of the poet's 
death, she reproduced several of them in Quill, the or 
gan of the Illinois Woman's Press Association, of which 
she is president. They give one such a delightful glimpse 
into the child-heart of Paul Laurence Dunbar that with 
Mrs. Bogg's permission we have copied verbatim into 
this biography, the article, quoting from them. 

PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 

In the passing of Paul Laurence Dunbar we have lost 
a friend who was dear to us because the friendship came 
through his love of " the boy," and because, too, of his 
own sweet personality. We shall always have with us 
the memory of his gentle presence, his courteous man 
ner, his soft, musical voice, and as we turn the pages of a 
correspondence mostly to " the boy " our eyes are dimmed 
as we read. Here is one written during his last con 
valescence from pneumonia, while here in Chicago : " My 
Dear little Friend : My peonies came with your card and 
I have sworn eternal friendship for you. My passion is 
for flowers and you, what have you done to me ? Sent 
me off spending my hard-earned dollars to get an antique 
vase to put them in. Thank you, my dear boy." 




HON. FREDERICK DOUGLASS 

Who gave Paul Dunbar a position in the Hayti building 
at the World's Columbian Exposition, paying him out 
of his own pocket, and who spoke of Dunbar as the 
"most promising young colored man in America." 




MASTER HARRY BARTON BOGG, JR. 

(Mr. Dunbar's favorite boy friend, with whom he corresponded 
to the day of his death.) 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 101 

After he went to his home, in Dayton, he often wrote 
fl the boy," always cheerfully. In one letter he says : 
" My Dear Boy : It was a little earlier than this last year 
when you came and brought sunshine into my sick room, 
and I want to celebrate that day. From Ohio to Illinois 
let us say ' good luck/ and I want to hope that your 
cheeks are glowing to-day as brightly as the flowers you 
brought." 

Again he writes : 

My Dear Boy : I call you " dear boy " because I love 
the name. This will be a great secret between us. ... 
I wrote yesterday to your mother, but, of course, you un 
derstand that it is awfully different writing to grown-ups, 
and that they never see through the things that we see 
through their vision has gone beyond the sight of our 
dearer youth. ... I thank you exceedingly for your 
picture, which has cheered me unspeakably, and which I 
keep over on my dresser, where I can see it now and then 
among the medicine bottles. Lovingly, your boy friend. 

It was not long after this that Mr. Dunbar grew too 
weak to write, and the last letters were dictated. In one 
he speaks of " the boy's " strength and vigor, adding : 
" He looks, oh, so healthy ! I wish I were half so well. 
My love to him and tell him that I should love to run my 
fingers through those curls on his head." 

In one of his last letters he says : " The winter has 
kept me continuously in bed one may as well be in 
Patagonia as here. 

" To-day 1 struggled out and got a glimpse of the sun. 
I see only the four walls of my room, and I welcome 
any change am thankful for the rain on the window 
pane." 



102 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

At the last a mutual friend in Dayton carried some 
blossoms to Mr. Dunbar for us, and afterwards wrote us : 
"Mrs. Dunbar (his mother) met me at the door and in 
sisted on my seeing him. When he was told I brought 
him flowers, he said at once : ' They can't be from the 
boy, can they ? ' I told him he had guessed right, and I 
cannot express to you his pleasure. I left him a very 
weak but happy man." 

On the fly leaf of one of his books he wrote for us : 

An angel robed in spotless white 
Bent down and kissed the sleeping night ; 
Night woke to blush, the sprite was gone 
Men saw the blush and called it Dawn. 

A. B. B. 



LAST DAYS OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 

(Being a Series of Personal Reminiscences of the Poet) 

One summer day in 1904, I was invited by the talented 
reader, Miss Anna Loy May, to accompany her to the 
home of Paul Laurence Dunbar, where she made frequent 
pilgrimages to recite for him the poems and sketches he 
loved to hear. Together we traversed the pretty street, 
which leads to the Dunbar home. The house is a com 
modious brick structure, shaded by magnificent elms, and 
on the lawn, at a point where the sick man's eyes could 
rest upon it, when he sat by a southern window, was a 
luxuriant bed of pansies. 

As we stepped upon the piazza, Mr. Dunbar's collie 
dog inaugurated a rather too-friendly greeting, and in 
another moment, the door was opened by the poet him 
self, who immediately apologized for his dog by saying: 

" My dog never barks at any one but poets : he is 
jealous for his master's reputation !" He asked me sev 
eral jocular questions, and then, looking at me in a quiz 
zical sort of way, exclaimed : 

" Did you expect to find me a long-faced, sancti 
monious individual of whom you would be afraid ? " 

" Y-es, Mr. Dunbar, I will confess it I had formed 
some such opinion." 

" And now you are disappointed, aren't you ? " he 
asked laughing more like a mischievous schoolboy than 
a world-famous man and an invalid. 

" A trifle," I replied, " but very delightfully so." 

This pleased him greatly, and we began to talk of com* 

103 



104 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

mon acquaintances in both races, of art and literature and 
kindred themes. The " surprise " I sustained in finding 
Mr. Dunbar such a cheerful and optimistic person con 
tinued during our entire call. 

A characteristic that appealed particularly to me was 
his impulsive way of showing delight when I chanced to 
mention the name of some one who proved to be a com 
mon friend. 

After we had conversed for possibly an hour Mr. Dun- 
bar reminded Miss May that she had not yet " read" for 
him. As her cultuied voice gave utterance to the lines of 
several of his favorite selections it was interesting to study 
the changing expressions upon the poet's face. At one 
point he laughed almost boisterously, at another he was 
moved to tears. In every line of his fine face one could 
see the evidences of culture and the shining of the poetic 
mind. 

His eyes were especially expressive, and were truly 
" windows of the soul." Mr. Dunbar's wit was so spon 
taneous, and so much a part of him that one could not be 
long in his society without observing the glint of a golden 
mirth in his glance or conversation. After Miss May had 
finished reading that afternoon, the poet left the room for 
a few moments. When he came back a half-grown black 
chicken perched contentedly upon his shoulder. He 
made no remark, but sitting down quietly, began talking 
again. My knowledge of the chicken as a domestic pet 
was limited, and my amazement at the evident fearless 
ness of this specimen caused me to exclaim : 

" Why, Mr. Dunbar, is that a chicken ? " 

" No, madame, it is a pig," replied the poet with never 
the ghost >f a smile. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 105 

Our laughter at this rejoinder brought to the door 
Paul Dunbar's mother who feared the unusual excitement 
might bring on one of the distressing attacks of coughing 
which so wracked and weakened his delicate frame. 

Paul Dunbar's mother 1 How shall I describe her ? 
There is such a world to say about that " little black 
mammy " whom he so dearly loved 1 But the story of 
Paul Dunbar's last days, or any of his days, would have 
been impossible without frequent mention of his devoted 
mother. No "good angel" in human guise evermore 
faithfully fulfilled a heavenly mission than did she through 
all the weary years of her son's long illness. 

Framed by the oaken panels of the doorway, Matilda 
Dunbar presented a wholesome and attractive picture. 
She is small of stature, with the same beautiful eyes which 
were so noticeable in her son's face, the same bright smile 
and cordial way, and a gentility of manner and modula 
tion of voice which show what possibilities there are for 
the negro woman if she will but take advantage of them. 

I shall never forget the looks of love upon his face and 
of pride upon hers as he introduced " my mother." Then 
in a tender and gentle tone she said : 

" Paul, dear, I fear you are over-doing. Aren't you 
talking too much ? " 

"No, no, ma, I'm having a most delightful time," he 
replied and bade her take a seat near him. 

A young colored man called to take the poet to drive. 
His embarrassment was apparent when he found Mr. 
Dunbar entertaining two " white " women friends, but 
Dunbar greeted him most affectionately, and presented 
him to us as his " talented friend Mr. H., who writes beau 
tiful verses." What a graceful and generous thing it was 



106 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

for the greatest poet of his race to thus bring to our 
knowledge immediately the fact that the new arrival 
possessed a talent for making verse. Too ill to go driv 
ing, he was compelled to decline his friend's hospitality, 
but his beautiful words of gratitude sent the young man 
away with a beaming face and a happy heart. It never 
seemed to matter to Paul Dunbar whether a man was 
rich or poor, black or white or yellow, if he offered him a 
kindness or expressed a good wish, the poet took pains 
to show his appreciation in as public a way as he could. 
He was almost wholly free from the blight of ingratitude 
Mr. Dunbar would have had us remain indefinitely, but 
knowing that we had already drawn over-deep upon his 
slender store of vitality, we literally " tore ourselves 
away " promising a speedy return. 

A CHINESE TEA PARTY 

Our second visit to Paul Laurence Dunbar was on a 
gray day in October. There was a chill in the air, and a 
drizzle from the clouds. A cold wind, like an advance 
agent for winter, was feeling the pulse of the people as 
though to discern how they felt towards the coming show. 
If the world could have been judged that day, by our 
wishes, winter would have felt far from complimented. 
Knowing the tendency of the artistic temperament to be 
depressed when the sun is not shining, I expected to find 
the sick man indulging in an attack of the blues. On the 
contrary, as soon as he entered the room, we felt that it 
was flooded with sunshine. He was simply bubbling 
over with good cheer and fun, and we were soon ob 
livious to the weather. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 107 

" Now, ladies, we are going to have a Chinese tea party 
this afternoon, and I am to be chef," said our host. 

We expressed our delight and told him how compli 
mented we felt to have a famous man for a " chef," but 
he laughed heartily at this, and asked us to follow him 
up-stairs to " Loafingholt." This is the name he gave his 
den or library, and it was well chosen, for there was every 
inducement to laziness and rest. The entire house was 
artistic in its appointments, and reflected everywhere the 
spirit of its master, but this room his own particular 
sanctum sanctorum was the most charmingly characteris 
tic apartment of them all. The walls were lined with 
book-shelves, above which were hung illuminated mottoes 
from the works of Riley, Stevenson and others of his 
favorites. A framed certificate gave evidence of the fact 
that Mr. Dunbar was a member of the famous Pen and 
Pencil Club of Wasnington, with an office in that organi 
zation. Another frame held an autograph copy of " My 
Country 'tis of Thee." On the top shelf of each book 
case were photographs of eminent men and women of 
both races, among them Black Patti, who called on Mr. 
Dunbar when giving a concert in Dayton, and presented 
him with her portrait. The pictures were almost all auto 
graphed. Dainty bits of bric-a-brac showed the poet to 
be a connoisseur in other fields than that of literature. 
The books were almost all presented to him by the 
authors. An arts-and-crafts bookcase contained copies 
of his own productions, and the collection was not one of 
which he needed to be ashamed. 

His desk showed that he had been at work, recently, 
and there were bits of unfinished poems strewn upon it. 

A couch piled high with gay sofa pillows, afforded a 



io8 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

cozy place for the poet to rest when tired of writing or of 
guests, and an Indian blanket rug in bright crimson gave 
the dignified room its needed bit of vivacious coloring. 
There were sleepy-hollow chairs and other " loafing " 
places in the room, and altogether it was very appropri 
ately named. 

In a corner near the door, was a handsome tabourette 
upon which was disposed the tea service. Such a pretty 
service it was with its foreign-looking sugar bowl and 
cream pitcher and its squatty little tea-pot, with the Jap 
anese cups so delicate and thin that one could almost 
" see through them." 

While we admired his books and his pictures or en 
gaged in merry conversation, Mr. Dunbar made the tea 
over his alcohol lamp and presently approached me with 
a cup of the fragrant brew. 

" This is genuine Chinese tea, ladies," he remarked. 
" It was brought to me by a friend direct from the Celes 
tial Kingdom." 

He then offered us sugar and cream. I added sugar to 
my tea, and immediately regretted it, for he said in mock 
horror : 

" There, now ! you've spoiled it the idea of Chinese tea 
with sugar in it." 

I acknowledged my ignorance, and asked him why he 
offered me sugar for " Chinese tea." 

" Just to see if you knew," laughed Mr. Dunbar with a 
wickedly mischievous smile. 

Over the tea-cups there was interesting talk, interesting 
because one could not converse many moments with Paul 
Laurence Dunbar without hearing something entertaining 
or profitable. He liked to say things to make one 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 109 

" think," as he once expressed it, and he usually suc 
ceeded. He seemed to be alive to all the vital problems 
of the age, and to have decided opinions upon each and 
every one. He was exceedingly witty and often said 
brilliantly funny things at most unexpected moments. 

He was greatly gratified to learn that I had committed 
several of his language poems to memory and that I pre 
ferred these to his dialect verses. The fact that the world 
at large, passing over his great productions in classic 
English, blindly " turned to praise a jingle in a broken 
tongue," was one of the real griefs that sapped his life and 
energy. " I am tired, so tired of dialect," he said. " I 
send out graceful little poems, suited for any of the maga 
zines, but they are returned to me by editors who say, 
' We would be very glad to have a dialect poem, Mr. 
Dunbar, but we do not care for the language composi 
tions.' I have about decided to write under a nom de 
plume, and I have chosen a beautiful name." We asked 
him to satisfy feminine curiosity by telling us the name, 
but he refused to do so, saying he was determined to 
"fool the editors." He then told us laughingly of a 
" bright young lady " who wrote to him criticising him 
for using various kinds of negro dialect in one volume. 
" Just think of it ! a literary critic and yet doesn't know 
that there are as many variations of the negro dialect as 
there are states in the Union ! For instance an Alabama 
negro does not speak any more like a Virginia colored 
man than a Yankee talks like a man from Colorado." 
Thus again and again he proved how thoroughly he had 
studied his race, north and south, east and west, and how 
well equipped he was when he went to his task of writing 
dialect poems. He gave the world the first idealized 



i io THE LIFE AND WORKS 

negro verse, and he gave the white race and all races to 
know that there is more real sentiment and artistic feeling 
in the negro brain than was ever dreamed of in the 
philosophy of the average Caucasian Horatio. He re 
marked early in life that he hoped to prove that his race 
was human as well as African, and he did much more he 
proved that they were artistic as well as humbly useful. 

After we had finished our tea, Mr. Dunbar was disposed 
to continue our talk indefinitely, but his strength was 
scarcely sufficient for such a long strain, and soon his 
mother called one of us outside for a moment and said : 

" I beg your pardon, ladies, but I expect you had better 
leave my son now as he may have a severe attack of 
coughing. Don't tell him I told you, for he will fear that 
it may offend you." 

We soon therefore begged another engagement, and 
left him, though he urged us to stay. Our conduct after 
we left him was not consistent with our protestations that 
we could not stay another moment, for we lingered below 
stairs to talk with his mother. We were startled to hear 
Mr. Dunbar call : 

" Miss May, oh, Miss May, come to the stairs a moment." 
She obeyed, and in a stage whisper he said : " You ladies 
had better not talk to mother, she may get to coughing." 
He had evidently overheard her warning to us, and was 
retaliating. 

Thus his love of fun and his inexhaustible wit, served 
to send us away with a smile and a hope that perhaps 
after all his life would be spared for many years to come. 
It was always difficult, when talking with him, to realize 
that his days were numbered and that the seal of Death 
was set upon him. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR in 

AN IMPROMPTU MUSICALE 

Among the things that were dear to the heart of Paul 
Laurence Dunbar was music vocal or instrumental he 
loved it, and he was, in his prime, no mean performer on 
the violin. 

One afternoon I went to see him on a matter of business, 
but ere I had been there long, he told me that I was " in 
luck," for there was to be a musicale in half an hour. 
Soon his guests began to arrive. Among them were 
prominent persons of both races. Mr. Dunbar sat on a 
couch smilling and chatting with every one, the gayest 
of the throng. One of the colored women began the 
program by singing several of Mr. Dunbar's favorite 
songs. One of these was " Lead Kindly Light." This 
was a great favorite of the poet's, and he once wrote a 
companion-piece to it which by many is thought to be as 
beautiful as the original poem. His poem is called a 
Hymn; and is really his own prayer to God for help in 
his illness. The last stanza is especially beautiful : 

"Lead gently, Lord, and slow, 

For fear that I may fall : 
I know not where to go 

Unless I hear thy call. 
My fainting soul doth yearn 

For thy green hills afar 
So let thy mercy burn 

My greater, guiding star ! M 

The young woman who sang for us that afternoon was 
wholly African, and her voice was typical of the race. 
Well may the negro be proud of his musical ability. 
Seldom indeed have I heard a soloist of any race whose 
tones could equal those that delighted us that day. The 



112 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

pott's very soul came into his expressive eyes as he lis 
tened. No applause was more earnest and no encore 
more sincere than his, as he asked for more and more. 

After the music a young woman of the party read sev 
eral of her poems at Mr. Dunbar' s request. His praise 
was very delicate and intelligent, and showed the poet's 
desire to accentuate the gifts of others. 

After the program Mr. Dunbar fell to talking of Theo 
dore Roosevelt, of whom he spoke as one of his dearest 
friends. He asked his mother to bring him his " Christ 
mas present, and when Mrs. Dunbar returned she brought 
with her two volumes, and Mr. Dunbar handed them 
around saying, " See ! I'm all * purled up' over these." 
The books were two of the works of the President, in 
scribed as follows : 

" To Paul Laurence Dunbar from Theodore Roosevelt, 
Christmas, 1903." 

He then told of the poem he had sent Mr. Roosevelt at 
the time of his second campaign, and of the President's 
complimentary letter concerning it. All were enthusiastic 
and wanted to hear the poem. So, after much persuasion, 
Mr. Dunbar read for us the lines : 

"There's a mighty sound a comin', 
From the East and there's a hummin* 

And a bummin' from the bosom of the West, 
While the North has given tongue, 
And the South will be among 

Those who holler that our Roosevelt is best. 

' We have heard of him in battle 
And amid the roar and rattle 

When the foemen fled like cattle to their stalls : 
We have seen him staunch and grim 
When the only battle hymn 

Was the shrieking of the Spanish Mauser balls. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 113 

" Product of a worthy sireing, 
Fearless, honest, brave, untiring 

In the forefront of the firing, there he stands : 
And we're not afraid to show 
That we all revere him so, 

To dissentients of our own and other lands. 

" Now, the fight is on in earnest, 
And we care not if the sternest 

Of encounters try our valor or the quality of him, 
For they're few who stoop to fear 
As the glorious day draws near, 

For you'll find him hell to handle when he gets in fightin' trim." 

Ill as he then was and weakened by the ravages of the 
disease that was killing him, one's imagination could 
readily picture what he must have been in his prime. 
His eyes flashed, and there was a sparkle in them that 
told how much he enjoyed giving a proper interpretation 
to his own poems. 

Before I left him that afternoon, he took occasion to 
tell me that he was to have his " class" that night, and 
that he must rest a bit before the pupils came. I asked 
in amazement what class he meant, and he said, with an 
enthusiasm which left no doubt as to his heart-interest in 
the work : 

" Why my class in spelling and reading. Some people 
think our people should be nurses and boot-blacks, but I 
am determined that they shall not make menials out of 
all of us." This class he taught for weeks, giving liter 
ally of his very life for the betterment of his race. 



AN " INTERVIEW" 
The fourth time I went to the Dunbar home, I had 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 

commission from a magazine to interview him. As the 
lower rooms were filled with callers, he took me up to 
" Loafingholt." He bade me take an easy chair, assur 
ing me that my "job" would be very difficult, and then 
sat down opposite with the air of a martyr about to be 
tied to the stake. This was somewhat disconcerting, and 
I must have looked my embarrassment for he soon began 
talking naturally of his health and the pretty view from 
his window, etc., until I was quite at my ease and able to 
" ask questions." 

Presently I said, " Mr. Dunbar, tell me what is your 
real reason for writing? Do you write for fame, for 
money or just for the pleasure of creating art ? " 

" I ? why do I write ? " he asked as though surprised at 
the query . " Why, I write just because I love it." 

Knowing that the majority of his race are noted for 
their superstitions, and having a curiosity to learn whether 
education and refinement would eradicate the racial trait, 
I asked him a leading question. 

" Well, I don't know," he ejaculated, with a far away 
look in his eyes. " Some people would laugh, I suppose, 
but things really do ' happen ' sometimes which are strange 
to say the least." 

"Yes?" I encouraged. 

" Well, once when I was a small boy, just at the age 
when I thought I knew more than my mother a queer 
thing occurred. The flowers in our front yard all came 
out in bloom in the dead of winter. Our neighbors' 
plants did not bloom and " 

" Did anything come of it ? " I found myself breath 
lessly asking. 

" Wait a moment," he said, " something else happened 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 115 

too a pair of horses hitched to a hearse ran off and 
stopped before our gate." 

" Were you frightened ? " I asked. 

" Not I I was too * wise ' you know, but my mother 
was terribly worried. We had an old gentleman with us 
then, and, if you will believe me he took ill and died in 
two weeks. Even since then I have believed in the 
truth of the old nursery rhyme 

" ' Flowers out of season, 
Trouble without reason ! ' " 

He recounted other instances which had come under 
his observation of the couplet's having " come true," 
speaking in a saddened tone of his having found a violet 
blossoming under his library window on All Saints' Day. 
This incident inspired three of his best known poems. 
The first he called " To a Violet Found on All-Saints' 
Day/' The others are " Weltschmertz," and " The 
Monk's Walk," published in " Lyrics of Love and 
Laughter." " That was indeed a flower ' blooming out 
of season,' and I never had much real happiness after 
that," he said. I knew that he was thinking of his un 
happy married life for the incident occurred in Wash 
ington. 

Since then I have had more respect for so-called 
"superstitions" and if the wholly practical must call 
these things mere coincidences, to some of us they can 
but seem a trifle more. 

Mr. Dunbar patiently answered my other questions, 
and I left him, feeling how kind he was and how consid 
erate, how lavish of his needed strength, and how gener 
ous of himself. 



116 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

POEMS "WHILE You WAIT" 

Doubtless there are hundreds of instances, memory- 
cherished by his friends, of Mr. Dunbar's having pro 
duced impromptu verses of remarkable cleverness and 
beauty. One or two of these I will recount, merely as 
examples of his ability to work under high pressure 
a gift as rare as it is unusual. 

Having business in Dayton, I had not intended 
going out to see Mr. Dunbar, but as was my custom, 
I called him by telephone. As soon as he recognized 
my voice, he said : 

"I am feeling fine to-day, and you must come out 
before leaving town. I shall have something for you 
when you get here!" 

He did not give me the slightest hint as to what the 
"something" would be, but I went out to see him. 

When I reached the house his mother admitted me, 
and Mr. Dunbar called from the parlor, where he sat 
curled up on a couch, for all the world like a small boy. 

"Just wait a moment, I'm hunting for a rhyme." 

Mrs. Dunbar and I had conversed but a few min 
utes when we heard him say exultantly: 

"Ah, that's it good!" and the next instant he was 
with us, smiling and bowing to me, and holding 
towards me a scrap of paper on which he had written 
in his own delicate hand (a feat by no means common 
on those latter days) the following: 

To A POET AND A LADY. 

You sing, and the gift of a State's applause 

Is yours for the rune that is ringing, 
But tell me truly, is that the cause? 

Don't you sing for the love of singing? 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 117 

Vou think you are working for wealth and for fame, 

But ah, you are not and you know it, 
For Wife is the sweetest and loveliest name, 

And every good wife is a poet ! 

These lines, written to please me, and not meant for a 
public reading, nevertheless contain, as did everything he 
wrote, a grain of helpful truth, and a delicate suggestion 
of the poet's love for the home and its mistress. He did 
not prostitute his talent, but even when the occasion was 
of a trivial character, he conscientiously gave his story a 
new dignity in the telling. 

Mr. D unbar was ever grateful for kindnesses shown 
him and took occasion to remark that day : 

" My stenographer is not here to-day, or she would type 
the verses for you." 

" Why, have you a secretary Mr. Dunbar ? " 

" Yes, the loveliest young woman in the world comes 
almost every day and does my writing for me, and she 
does it gratis will not think of accepting compensation." 
His face fairly beamed as he said it, and one could not 
help seeing how he appreciated this service from a young 
woman of his sister race. Could he but have heard what 
she said to me after he died, he would have understood 
why she came day after day to write for him " I never 
knew the beauty and breadth of life until I knew Paul 
Laurence Dunbar," said the young woman with moist 
eyes, " and I can never tell you what those days spent in 
his society meant to me." She then told me of his hav 
ing composed aloud his last poem " Sling Along " while 
she wrote it down in shorthand. It was with great diffi 
culty that he talked that day, because of the frequent 
spells of coughing that attacked him, but one can see 



u8 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

that even then he was possessed with a spirit of fun and 
happy humor. The lines which have not yet appeared in 
print are as follows : 

SLING ALONG. 

Sling along, sling along, sling along, 

De moon done riz, 

Dem eyes o' his 

Done sighted you 

Where you stopped to woo. 
Sling along, sling along, 

It ain't no use fu' to try to hide, 

De moonbeam allus at yo' side, 

He hang f 'om de fence, he drap Pom de limb, 

Dey ain't no use bein' skeered o' him, 
Sling along, sling along. 

Sling along, sling along, sling along, 

De brook hit flow, 

Fu' to let you know, 

Dat he saw dat kiss, 

An' he know yo' bliss. 
Sling along, sling along. 

He run by yo' side, 

An' he say howdydo, 

He ain't gine to tell but his eye is on you, 

You can lay all yo' troubles on de highest shelf 

Fu' de little ol 1 brook's jes talkin' to his se'f, 
Sling along, sling along. 

Sling along, sling along, sling along, 

De' possum grin, 

But he run lak sin, 

He know love's sweet, 

But he prize his meat, 
Sling along, sling along. 

He know you'd stop fu' to hunt his hide, 

If you los* a kiss and a hug beside, 

But de feas' will come and de folks will eat, 

When she tek yo' han' at de altah sea, 
Sling along, sling along. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 121 

Another instance of his wonderful skill in writing from 
inspiration, is the story of his " Rain Songs." 

The day was dark and the rain fell drearily outside his 
window. Only a poet's mind could have conceived any 
thing beautiful in such a prospect. A young man friend 
was with him. Suddenly Mr. Dunbar, gazing intently 
out at the vision in the rain, said to his companion : 

" Did you ever think of the rain's looking like harp- 
strings?" 

" No " said the young man, " I cannot say that I 
ever did." 

" Well how does this sound ? " and the poet is de 
scribed as having repeated the words slowly, as though 
saying them after some one whose voice, audible to him, 
could not be heard by his companion 

" The rain streams down like harp-strings from the sky, 
The wind, that world-old harper sitteth by, 
And ever, as he sings his low refrain, 
He plays upon the harp-strings of the rain." 

DUNBAR'S LAST BIRTHDAY 

Feeling that the poet's days on earth were swiftly pass 
ing by, and that perchance this (June 2yth, 1905) would 
be (as it proved) his last birthday, a number of his friends 
in Dayton, planned a surprise for him. 

It being a beautiful afternoon, Mr. Dunbar's physician 
gave him permission to go driving with a friend who, 
quite innocently, of course, called with a carriage. 

In the poet's absence his friends took possession of his 
home and made it ready for the " party." His chair, at 
the head of the table, was festooned in royal purple, and 
his favorite flowers were everywhere in evidence. A 



122 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

great birthday cake and dainty viands made an ideal sup 
per table. 

Upon his return from the drive, Mr. Dunbar came slowly 
up the steps and across the veranda. When he opened 
the door, he was met by a perfect avalanche of congratu 
lations 1 Taken wholly unaware, he was for a moment 
unable to speak, but, with something of his old spirit, he 
entered into the affair, and was soon the gayest of them 
all. 

At supper there were clever speeches and happy rep 
artee. One of the toasts was given by Dr. William 
Burns, Mr. Dunbar's dearest friend among his own people. 

This brilliant young physician was Mr. Dunbar's con 
stant attendant for the last three years of his life, going 
with him whenever he ventured from home to recite, and 
.caring for him always as tenderly as a brother. He was 
a man of sterling worth and beautiful personality, and it 
is small wonder that the poet loved him almost to idolatry. 
Special mention is thus made because in the following 
November the young physician was struck down in the 
very height of his professional successes and passed into 
the Mystery four months before his famous friend and 
pptient. The passing of Dr. Burns has been thought by 
many to have hastened the end of Paul Laurence Dunbar, 
and, ill as he was, at the time his physician died, he in 
sisted on being taken in a carriage to his lodgings. Wit 
nesses say that Mr. Dunbar took the hand of Dr. Burns, 
and talked to him just as though he were still there in 
spirit as well as flesh. He was driven back to his home, 
but always refused to admit that " Bud," as he called the 
doctor, was dead. His mind weakened by disease and 
sorrow, could not grasp this last dreadful tragedy, 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 123 

No gloomy forebodings, however, dimmed the happiness 
of the birthday supper, and the picture presented by that 
festal board is one worthy the brush of a master, because 
it was a revelation and a prophecy. Sitting side by side 
at the poet's table were young people of both the black 
and white races. Each face was of an exceptionally fine 
intellectual mould each individual was an artist in his 
line. An Episcopal clergyman of the Negro race, 
touched elbows wich a beautiful young business woman, 
a representative of Dayton's " Four Hundred" met on an 
equal intellectual footing the cultured young physician, 
whose skin alone was black. 

The sight must have been gratifying to the mind of 
Paul Laurence Dunbar, for he could but have seen in 
this happy mingling of intellectual negroes and broad- 
minded whites an omen for the future of his race. His 
own personality had much to do with the matter, but if 
the race has produced one genius like Paul Dunbar, it 
can produce others, and therein lies its hope of final 
recognition. 

A short time after his birthday party, Mr. Dunbar was 
visited by a delegation from the Ohio Federation of Colored 
Woman's Clubs, meeting in Dayton, and enjoyed ex 
ceedingly making the acquaintance of women of his own 
race who were interested in the higher education. 

During this convention, Mrs Mary Church Terrell, a 
Washington friend of Mr. Dunbar's, and a woman 
who has gained an enviable reputation in the world of 
letters was a house-guest at the Dunbar home. Writing 
of this visit in the April, 1906, issue of the Voice of the 
Negro, Mrs. Terrell pays so beautiful a tribute to Mr. 
Dunbar that a portion of it is given herewith. It shows 



124 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

that Mr. Dunbar was appreciated by the more intellectual 
members of his own race as well as by those of the sister 
races. 

Mrs. Terrell says : 

" During the few days spent with Mr. Dunbar last 
summer I discovered there were depths in his character 
that I had never sounded and qualities of heart of which 
I had never dreamed, although I saw him frequently 
when he lived in Washington. 

" Owen Meredith says that 

" ' The heart of a man is like that delicate weed 
Which requires to be trampled on, boldly indeed 
Ere it gives forth the fragrance you wish to extract. 
'Tis a simile, trust me, if not new, exact.' 

" Whether affliction and sorrow always bring out the 
best there is in a man, I cannot say. I do know, however, 
that the physical and mental pain which Paul Laurence 
Dunbar endured for a year before he passed away, de 
veloped the highest and noblest qualities in him. When 
I saw Paul Dunbar last summer, he was shut in, wasted 
and worn by disease, coughing his young and precious 
life away, yet full of cheer, when not actually racked with 
pain, and perfectly resigned to fate. I shall always think 
of his patience under his severe affliction as a veritable 
miracle of modern times. In the flush of early manhood, 
full of promise of still greater literary achievement in 
the future than he had been able to attain in the past, 
fond of life as the young should be and usually are, there 
he sat, rapidly losing his physical strength every hour, 
and yet, miracle of miracles, no bitter complaint of his 
cruel fate did I hear escape his lips a single time. The 
weakness and inertia of his worn and wasted body 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 125 

trasted sadly and strangely with the strength and ac 
tivity of his vigorous mind. As I looked at him, pity for 
the afflicted man himself and pity for the race to which 
he belonged and which I knew would soon sustain such 
an irreparable loss in his death almost overcame me more 
than once. As incredible as it may appear, his moods 
were often sunny and then it was delightful to hear the 
flood of merriment roll cheerily from his lips. . 

"It was gratifying to see the homage paid Mr. D unbar 
by some of the most cultured and some of the wealthiest 
people of the dominant race in Dayton. . . . 

" On one occasion after some beautiful girls who had 
called to pay their respects to Mr. Dunbar, had g"one, in 
a nervous effort to relieve the tension of my own feelings, 
I turned to him and said : 

" ' Sometimes I am tempted to believe you are not half so 
ill as you pretend to be. I believe you are just playing 
the role of interesting invalid, so as to receive the sym 
pathy and homage of these beautiful girls.' 

" * Sometimes I think I am just loafing myself/ he 
laughingly replied. How well he remembered this was 
shown a short while after I returned home. He sent me 
a copy of his ' Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow/ which 
at that time was his latest book. On the fly leaf he had 
written with his own hand, a feat which during the first 
year of his illness he was often unable to perform, the 
following lines : 

"Look hyeah, Molly, 

Ain't it jolly, 
Jes' a loafin' 'oun' ? 

Tell the Jedge 

Not to hedge 
For I am still in town. 



126 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

"Whether Paul Dunbar will be rated a great poet or 
not, no human being can tell. It is impossible for his 
contemporaries either to get a proper perspective of his 
achievement or to actually guage his genius. Person 
ally I believe he will occupy as high a place in American 
literature as Burns does in the British, if not higher. 

"But whether Paul Dunbar will be rated great or not, it 
is certain that he has rendered an invaluable service to 
his race. Because he has lived and wrought, the race to 
which he belonged has been lifted to a higher plane. 
Each and every person in the United States remotely 
identified with his race is held in higher esteem because 
of the ability which Paul Dunbar possessed and the suc 
cess he undoubtedly attained. 

"Indeed the whole civilized world has greater respect 
for that race which some have the ignorance to underes 
timate and others the hardihood to despise, because this 
black man, through whose veins not a drop of Caucasian 
blood was known to flow, has given such a splendid and 
striking proof of its capacity for high intellectual achieve 
ment." 



MY LAST VISIT TO PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 

The austere face of a winter sun was hidden behind a 
veil of forbidding gray, and the earth and sky were monk- 
garbed and sombre-eyed that last day that I saw Dunbar. 

His bed had been brought down-stairs, so that his 
mother could be near him as she performed her house 
hold duties, and as he lay there among the pillows one 
could see how weak he was, how wasted and how frail. 
, as I entered the room, approached his bed and took 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 127 

his hand, his smile was just as bright and his words 
were just as brave as they had been in the earlier days 
of our acquaintance. There was the customary badin 
age, the never-failing inquiry as to why I had not been 
to see him for so long, and the pathetic enthusiasm over 
the world-interests which for him were so soon to be a c 
naught. 

By and by he was permitted to sit in his chair by the 
window, and to me it seemed as a throne, where all the 
lovers of art should fall down and worship. But ah what 
a weak king he was, how like a little child ! Yet his 
great eyes were still bright, and his heart aglow with the 
flame that warmed it to the last. 

Presently as he sat there he said to his mother who was 
passing through the room 

" Ma, I never did get to see my flowers that came 
this morning." 

" Well, Paul, I have them in the parlor, where it is 
cold, so that they will keep till Sunday ! " 

"Oh, I forgot," he said with a sigh, "that the flowers 
cannot live in a room that is warm enough for me ! " 

In a few moments Mrs. Dunbar brought in a vase, 
filled with gorgeous American Beauty roses, and I placed 
them on a little stool at his feet, where he could look at 
them for a while. 

Oh, how he gazed at those flowers ! so wistfully, as 
though he envied them their glorious beauty and perfect 
development so tenderly, as though each rose had a 
human heart and an ache in it so reverently, as though 
the vase were a shrine and he an ardent devotee ! 

Then with moist eyes and a heart-breaking smile he 
said, turning to his mother 



128 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

" Take them away, ma, so they may ' keep for Sun 
day.' " 

He then fell to talking of Wilberforce the African 
missionary of whom the papers were saying such dread 
ful things at the time, claiming that he had gone back to 
savagery and cannibalism. 

"It is an outrage ! Oh, how I wish I were able to do 
something to correct those stories. They are absolutely 
false, and it is such an awful blow to the race ! " 

He spoke feelingly of the missionary who had been 
educated by the United Brethren church, and one could 
see how he chafed under the weakness that chained him 
down when he longed so to go forth and do battle for 
his race. 

That same day we chanced to speak of Alice and 
Phcebe Gary. I told him of several visits I had made 
their brother at the old home near College Hill, Ohio, 
and of my having found in a history of the family a men 
tion of the coat of arms, won by a remote Gary on English 
battle-fields. When I quoted the Latin legend, and gave 
him my .version of the translation he thought I had it 
wrong, and was not satisfied till I went up to his library 
and found his Latin grammar. I shall never forget how 
eagerly he scanned the well-worn text-book, though his 
hand trembled so he could scarcely hold the volume. It 
was pitiful indeed to see him thus employed, when one 
knew how soon he must lay forever aside his precious books 
and leave them all behind. 

That was the last time I saw him alive. Two months 
later, a message came over my telephone : " Paul Dunbar 
is dead." 

Tt was with a strange mixture of feelings that I started 




HON. BRAND WHITLOCK, MAYOR OF TOLEDO 

Who counted Dunbar as one of his dear friends, and who when 
asked for a word for this biography said: " Say that his picture 
hangs on my library wall with that of Walt Whitman, Thoreau 
and others of my favorites." 




I 

3 



<U <U 

X! ^- 
bfl 



a * 
3 



.2 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 131 

once more for Dayton on the day of Mr. Dunbar's 
funeral. 

Down town I bought a few flowers and was about to 
go in search of a messenger to take them out to the Dun- 
bar home, when I noticed a colored man with another 
florist's box, addressed in large letters : " For Paul Lau 
rence Dunbar." The man was waiting for a car, and ap 
proaching him I said : " Will you take my flowers too ? " 

" Yes, ma'am/' he replied, and I could not but see that 
his eyes were full of tears. 

Handing him a bit of silver I said, " Here is your fee." 
I have never had any one look at me so reproachfully as 
did that poor colored man that day 

" Money ? No, indeed. It is all I can do for poor Paul 
now." 

Later I called at the Summit Street home, and saw him, 
for the first time, wholly at rest and free from pain. 

His DEATH AND BURIAL 

On February 9th, 1906, it became apparent, early in 
the afternoon, that Mr. Dunbar's end was fast approach 
ing. A physician and then a minister came. Thrice the 
poet asked the time, and whether it was day or night. 
Then the minister read the Twenty-third Psalm, which had 
always been Mr. Dunbar's favorite portion of Scripture. 
The dying man lay quietly listening. When the reader 
ceased, Dunbar, in a fast-failing voice, began to repeat 
the psalm for himself, and when he came to the words 

"When I walk through the valley of the shadow " 

God must indeed have been " with him," for it was then 
that he .fell asleep. 



132 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

After all his shortcomings, his weaknesses and his mis 
takes, he found at the last the peace that his life had never 
known. 

On the afternoon of February i2th at the Eaker Street 
A. M. E. Church in Dayton, the funeral services were 
held. On the church records of this little sanctuary, the 
name of Paul Laurence Dunbar had been written in his 
own hand in childhood days, and it had never been erased. 
His mother, therefore, thought it appropriate and right to 
have his burial service there. So many were the flowers 
sent that they not only banked the little pulpit and clus 
tered about the casket, but beautiful bouquets were dis 
tributed about the house. Eloquent tributes were paid 
the dead poet by the pastor of the church, Professor Scar 
borough of Wilberforce University, and other clergymen 
of both races, but it seemed to me that the most touching 
of them all was the address of his loyal friend, Dr. H. A. 
Tobey, of Toledo. Among other things Dr. Tobey said : 
" I never loved a man so much. ' Golden Rule Jones, 
Brand Whitlock and myself were three great cronies, be 
cause we were three * cranks,' I suppose, but we took Paul 
in and made him one of us." 

He spoke of Mr. Dunbar's distinguished friends, re 
ferring particularly to Mr. William Dean Howells and 
Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll, paying Mr. Ingersoll a very 
high compliment on his own account. Dr. Tobey then 
read a letter, written him by Mr. Brand Whitlock, Mayor 
of Toledo, who was prevented from attending the obse 
quies by reason of the critical illness of his aged mother. 
The letter, revealing as it does, the love of another author 
for Mr. Dunbar, and the high place he held in Mr. Whit- 
lock's esteem, is given verbatim : 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 133 

629 Winthrop Street, Toledo, Ohio, 
ii February, 1906. 

DEAR DOCTOR TOBEY : 

I wish I could be with you all to-morrow to pay 
my tribute to poor Paul. But I cannot, and feeling as I 
do his loss, I cannot now attempt any estimate of his won 
derful personality that would be at all worthy. If friend 
ship knew obligation, I would acknowledge my debt to 
you for the boon of knowing Paul Dunbar. It is one of 
the countless good deeds to your credit that you were 
among the first to recognize the poet in him and help him 
to a larger and freer life. 

For Paul was a poet : and I find that when I have said 
that I have said the greatest and most splendid thing that 
can be said about a man. Men call this or that man great 
and load him with what the world holds to be honors 
its soldiers and its statesmen, its scholars and its scien 
tists. This may all be very well, but I think we know that 
after all the soldiers and the statesmen and the savants 
are not concerned with the practical things of life, the 
things that are really worth while. Nature, who knows 
so much better than man about everything, cares nothing 
at all for the little distinctions, and when she elects one of 
her children for her most important work, bestows on him 
the rich gift of poesy, and assigns him a post in the great 
est of the arts, she invariably seizes the opportunity to 
show her contempt of rank and title and race and land 
and creed. She took Burns from a plow and Paul from 
an elevator, and Paul has done for his own people what 
Burns did for the peasants of Scotland he has expressed 
them in their own way and in their own words. There 
are many analogies between these two poets, just as there 
are many analogies between Paul and Shelley and Keats 
and Byron and Pushkin. They all died very young, they 
knew little of the joys that are common to common men, 
but they had their griefs, their sorrows, their sufferings, 
far beyond the common lot. But the terms on which 
Nature lets her darlings become poets are always ob- 



234 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

durate. To the poet, as Whitman says, agonies must be 
come as changes of garment, he must suffer all things, 
hope all things, endure all things, and knowledge is not 
otherwise obtained. He must go through torments and 
pain, he must feel the dreadful hunger of the soul, and 
usually he must die young all for the sake of being a 
poet. And that is enough for him after all, for if the com 
mon joys and satisfactions rest and peace and home and 
all that are denied him, he has the joy of artistic crea 
tion, which is the highest man may know. It is enough 
for the poet that he is a poet, yet this is not his glory. 
His glory is that through this experience he expresses for 
the race all joy and grief, all the moods and emotions, 
exalted or depressed, of the human soul, and myriads of 
voiceless people, living about him and living after him, 
find the solace and relief that come of expression which, 
were it not for him, they would be compelled to go with 
out and suffer dumbly. 

I have spoken of our friend as a poet of his own people 
and this he was : he expressed his own race its humor, 
its kindliness, its fancy, its love of grace and melody : he 
expressed, too, its great sufferings, and what race has 
suffered more, or more unjustly, or what race has borne 
its sufferings with sublimer patience ? It is a race that 
has produced many great and worthy men, in the very 
face of untold opposition and prejudice, but the work of 
these men has been more or less confined to their race 
But without the least disparagement, I think I can say 
that Paul's range and appeal were wider than those of 
any other of his race : if they had not been he would not 
have been a poet. For the true poet is universal as is 
the love he incarnates in himself, and Paul's best poetry 
has this quality of universality. 

I am very glad that he was so thoroughly American 
and democratic. He might have been a poet without 
having been an American, but he could not have been a 
poet without having been democratic, and I believe I may 
safely add that he could not have been a poet without 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 135 

having had at least the spirit of America. For all poets 
have had this spirit : they have loved liberty, equality 
and fraternity. You know Browning says : 

Shakespeare was of us, Milton was for us, 

Burns, Shelley were with us they watch from their graves. 

There was nothing foreign in Paul's poetry, nothing 
imported, nothing imitated : it was all original, native and 
indigenous. Thus he becomes the poet not of his own 
race alone I wish I could make people see this but the 
poet of you and of me and of all men everywhere. 

You and I know something of his deeper sufferings, 
something of the disease that really killed him. I can 
never forget the things he said about this that last even 
ing we spent together. I know nothing anywhere so 
pathetic as this brave, gentle, loving spirit with its poet's 
heart, moving among men, who, though far his inferior 
in intellectual and spiritual endowment, yet claimed to 
be but I must not recall such things now. The deep 
melancholy this caused him has been expressed over and 
over in his poems. " The Warrior's Prayer," " We wear 
the Mask," and others are veritably steeped in it. Let 
that suffice. 

That last evening he recited oh, what a voice he 
had ! his " Ships that Pass in the Night." You will re 
member. I sat and listened sadly conscious that I would 
not hear him often again, knowing that voice would soon 
be mute. I can hear him now and see the expression on 
his fine face as he said " Passing 1 Passing 1 " It was pro 
phetic. 

We shall hear that deep, melodious voice no more : his 
humor, his drollery, his exquisite mimicry these are 
gone. And to-morrow you will lay his tired body away, 
fittingly enough, on Lincoln's birthday. But his songs 
will live and give his beautiful personality an immortality 
in this world, and we we can remember that he is with 
Theocritus to-night. Yours very sincerely, 

BRAND WHITLOCK. 



I 3 6 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

Dr. Davis W. Clark, of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, one of the most scholarly men of that com 
munion, offered the final prayer at Mr. Dimbar's funeral. 
Dr. Clark was so impressed by the occasion that he soon 
after set about securing funds for a monument to the 
poet's memory. Speaking of the event a few weeks 
afterwards Dr. Clark said : 

" When I saw him lying there in his casket, he seemed 
to me a prince." 

The remains of Paul Laurence Dunbar were placed in 
the vault at the beautiful Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, 
and two months later, he was buried. The site of his 
grave is well chosen, being at the summit of a little hill, 
and in selecting it his mother endeavored to follow as 
nearly as might be, the wishes voiced by her son in his 
" Death Song." She will plant a willow near the mound, 
so that by and by he will be lying " neaf de willers in de 
grass." He is near also to " de noises in de road," for 
the grave is in view of one of the entrances to the 
cemetery. . . . 

Summing it all up, this short, feverish, brilliant life an 
honest observer can but agree with the poet's best be 
loved friend Dr. Tobey, who when a sympathetic admirer 
of Mr. Dunbar's said: "It is such a pity he had to 
die," exclaimed : 

" No, thank God, I'm glad he's gone this world was 
too sad a place for him." 



PART II 
The Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar 



ERE SLEEP COMES DOWN TO 
SOOTHE THE WEARY EYES 

This poem is one of the most profound 
that Mr. Dunbar ever wrote, though it is 
one of his early productions. It attracted 
the attention of many learned persons be 
fore the poet became famous. Among 
those who spoke of it especially, were the 
playwright James A. Herne and Colonel 
Robert G. Ingersoll. 

ERE sleep comes down to soothe the weary 

eyes, 
Which all the day with ceaseless care 

have sought 
The magic gold which from the seeker 

flies; 
Ere dreams put on the gown and cap 

of thought, 
And make the waking world a world of 

lies, 

Of lies most palpable, uncouth, forlorn, 
That say life's full of aches and tears and 

sighs, 
Oh, how with more than dreams the 

soul is torn, 

Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary 
eyes. 

Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary 

eyes, 
How all the griefs and heartaches we 

have known 

Come up like pois'nous vapors that arise 
From some base witch's caldron, when 

the crone, 

To work some potent spell, her magic plies. 
The past which held its share of bitter 
pain, 



Whose ghost we prayed that Time might 

exorcise, 
Comes up, is lived and suffered o'er 

again, 
Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary 

eyes. 

Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary 

eyes, 
What phantoms fill the dimly lighted 

room ; 

What ghostly shades in awe-creating guise 
Are bodied forth within, the teeming 

gloom. 
What echoes faint of sau and soul sick 

cries, 

And pangs of vague inexplicable pam 
That pay the spirit's ceaseless enterprise, 
Come thronging through the chambers 

of the brain, 

Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary 
eyes. 

Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary 

eyes, 
Where ranges forth the spirit far and 

free? 

Through what strange realms and unfa 
miliar skies 

Tends her far course to lands of mys 
tery ? 

To lands unspeakable beyond surmise. 
Where shapes unknowable to being 

spring, 

Till, faint of wing, the Fancy fails and dies 
Much wearied with the spirit's journey 
ing. 

Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary 
eyes. 



137 



138 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary 

eyes, 
How questioneth the soul that other 

soul, 
The inner sense which neither cheats nor 

lies, 

But self exposes unto self, a scroll 
Full writ with all life's acts unwise or 

wise, 

In characters indelible and known ; 
So, trembling with the shock of sad sur 
prise, 

The soul doth view its awful self alone, 
Ere sleep comes down to soothe the weary 
eyes. 

When sleep comes down to seal the weary 

eyes, 
The last dear sleep whose soft embrace 

is balm, 
And whom sad sorrow teaches us to prize 

For kissing all our passions into calm, 
Ah, then, no more we heed the sad world's 

cries, 

Or seek to probe th' eternal mystery, 
Or fret our souls at long-withheld replies, 
At glooms through which our visions 

cannot see, 

When sleep comes down to seal the weary 
eyes. 

THE POET AND HIS SONG 
A song is but a little thing, 
And yet what joy it is to sing ! 
In hours of toil it gives me zest, 
And when at eve I long for rest ; 
When cows come home along the bars, 

And in the fold I hear the bell, 
As Night, the shepherd, herds his stars, 

I sing my song, and all is well. 

There are no ears to hear my lays, 
No lips to lift a word of praise ; 
But still, with faith unfaltering, 
I live and laugh and love and sing. 
What matters yon unheeding throng ? 

They cannot feel my spirit's spell, 
Since life is sweet and love is long, 

I sing my song, and all is well. 

My days are never days of ease ; 

I till my ground and prune my trees. 



When ripened gold is all the plain, 

I put my sickle to the grain. 

I labor hard, and toil and sweat, 

While others dream within the dell ; 
But even while my brow is wet, 

I sing my song, and all is well. 

Sometimes the sun, unkindly hot, 
My garden makes a desert spot ; 
Sometimes a blight upon the tree 
Takes all my fruit away from me ; 
And then with throes of bitter pain 

Rebellious passions rise and swell ; 
But life is more than fruit or grain, 

And so I sing, and all Is well. 

RETORT 

"Thou art. a fool," said my head to my 

heart, 
" Indeed, the greatest of fools thou art, 

To be led astray by the trick of a tress, 
By a smiling face or a ribbon smart ; " 

And my heart was in sore distress. 

Then Phyllis came by, and her face was 

fair, 

The light gleamed soft on her raven hair ; 

And her lips were blooming a rosy red. 

Then my heart spoke out with a right bold 

air : 
" Thou art worse than a fool, O head ! " 

ACCOUNTABILITY 

Folks ain't got no right to censuah othah 
folks about dey habits ; 

Him dat giv' de squir'ls de bushtails made 
de bobtails fu' de rabbits. 

Him dat built de gread big mountains hol 
lered out de little valleys, 

Him dat made de streets an' driveways 
wasn't shamed to make de alleys. 

We is all constructed diff'ent, d'ain't no 

two of us de same ; 
We cain't he'p ouah likes an' dislikes, ef 

we'se bad we ain't to blame. 
Ef we'se good, we needn't show off, case 

you bet it ain't ouah doin' 
We gits into su'ttain channels dat we jes* 

cain't he'p pu'suin'. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



139 



But we all fits into places dat no othah 

ones could fill, 
/ -n' we does the things we has to, big er 

little, good er ill. 
John cain't tek de place o' Henry, Su an* 

Sally ain't alike ; 
Bass ain't nuthin' like a suckah, chub ain't 

nuthin' like a pike. 

When you come to think about it, how it's 

all planned out it's splendid, 
Nuthin's done er evah happens, 'dout hit's 

somefin' dat's intended ; 
Don't keer whut you does, you has to, an' 

hit sholy beats de dickens, 
Viney, go put on de kittle, I got one o* 

mastah's chickens. 

FREDERICK DOUGLASS 

A hush is over all the teeming lists, 

And there is pause, a breath-space in 
the strife; 

A spirit brave has passed beyond the mists 
And vapors that obscure the sun of life. 

And Ethiopia, with bosom torn, 

Laments the passing of her noblest born. 

She weeps for him a mother's burning 

tears 
She loved him with a mother's deepest 

love. 

He was her champion thro' direful years, 

And held her weal all other ends above. 

When Bondage held her bleeding in the 

dust, 
He raised her up and whispered, " Hope 

and Trust." 

For her his voice, a fearless clarion, rung 
That broke in warning on the ears of 

men ; 
For her the strong bow of his power he 

strung, 

And sent his arrows to the very den 
Where grim Oppression held his bloody 

place 
And gloated o'er the mis'ries of a race. 

And he was no soft-tongued apologist ; 
He spoke straightforward, fearlessly un- 
cowed; 



The sunlight of his truth dispelled the 

mist, 
And set in bold relief each dark-hued 

cloud ; 
To sin and crime he gave their proper 

hue, 
And hurled at evil what was evil's due. 

Through good and ill report he cleaved 

his way 
Right onward, with his face set toward 

the heights, 
Nor feared to face the foeman's dread 

array, 
The lash of scorn, the sting of petty 

spites. 
He dared the lightning in the lightning's 

track, 
And answered thunder with his thunder 

back. 

When men maligned him, and their torrent 

wrath 

In furious imprecations o'er him broke, 
He kept his counsel as he kept his path ; 
'Twas for his race, not for himself, he 

spoke. 

He knew the import of his Master's call, 
And felt himself too mighty to be small. 

No miser in the good he held was he, 
His kindness followed his horizon's rim. 

His heart, his talents, and his hands were 

free 
To all who truly needed aught of him. 

Where poverty and ignorance were rife, 

He gave his bounty as he gave his life. 

The place and cause that first aroused his 

might 
Still proved its power until his latest 

day. 

In Freedom's lists and for the aid of Right 
Still in the foremost rank he waged the 

fray ; 
Wrong lived ; his occupation was not 

gone. 
He died in action with his armor on ! 

We weep for him, but we have touched 
his hand, 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



And felt the magic of his presence nigh, 
The current that he sent throughout the 

land, 

The kindling spirit of his battle-cry. 
O'er all that holds us we shall triumph yet, 
And place our banner where his hopes 
were set I 

Oh, Douglass, thou hast passed beyond the 

shore, 
But still thy voice is ringing o'er the 

gale! 
Thou'st taught thy race how high her 

hopes may soar, 
And bade her seek the heights, nor 

faint, nor fail. 
She will not fail, she heeds thy stirring 

cry, 

She knows thy guardian spirit will be nigh, 
And, rising from beneath the chast'ning 

rod, 
She stretches out her bleeding hands to 

God! 



LIFE 

It is doubtful if any modern poem has 
had a wider reading than this. It was a 
favorite selection of Mr. Dunbar's when 
reciting, and his reading of it was very 
impressive. It is peculiarly typical of his 
own experiences in life as well as of those 
of us all. In spite of his frank acknowl 
edgment of the predominance of the 
" groans," however, he would not end the 
poem without a bit of exhortation and a 
crumb of comfort for, after all, it is true, 
as he sings, that 

" Joy seems sweeter when cares come after, 
And a moan is the finest of foils for laughter," 

and the man of sorrows is the man who 
wins the ear and the heart of the world. 



A crust of bread and a corner to sleep in, 
A minute to smile and an hour to weep in, 
A pint of joy to a peck of trouble, 
And never a laugh but the moans come 
double ; 

And that is life ! 



A crust and a corner that love makes 

precious, 
With the smile to warm and the tears to 

refresh us; 
And joy seems sweeter when cares come 

after, 
And a moan is the finest of foils foi 

laughter ; 

And that is life ! 



THE LESSON 

My cot was down by a cypress grove, 
And I sat by my window the whole 

night long, 
And heard well up from the deep dark 

wood 
A mocking-bird's passionate song. 

And I thought of myself so sad and lone, 
And my life's cold winter that knew no 
spring; 

Of my mind so weary and sick and wild, 
Of my heart too sad to sing. 

But e'en as I listened the mock-bird's 
song, 

A thought stole into my saddened heart, 
And I said, " I can cheer some other soul 

By a carol's simple art." 

For oft from the darkness of hearts and 

lives 
Come songs that brim with joy and 

light, 

As out of the gloom of the cypress grove 
The mocking-bird sings at night. 

So I sang a lay for a brother's ear 

In a strain to soothe his bleeding heart 

And he smiled at the sound of my voice 

and lyre, 
Though mine was a feeble art. 

But at his smile T smiled in turn, 
And into my soul there came a ray: 

In trying to soothe another's woes 
Mine own had passed away. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



141 



THE RISING OF THE STORM 

The lake's dark breast 

Is all unrest, 
It heaves with a sob and a sigh. 

Like a tremulous bird, 

From its slumber stirred, 
The moon is a-tilt in the sky. 



From the silent deep 

The waters sweep, 
But faint on the cold white stones, 

And the wavelets fly 

With a plaintive cry 
O'er the old earth's bare, bleak bones. 

And the spray upsprings 

On its ghost- white wings, 
And tosses a kiss at the stars ; 

While a water-sprite, 

In sea-pearls dight, 
Hums a sea-hymn's solemn bars. 

Far out in the night, 

On the wavering sight 
I see a dark hull loom ; 

And its light on high, 

Like a Cyclops' eye, 
Shines out through the mist and gloom. 

Now the winds well up 

From the earth's deep cup. 
And fall on the sea and shore, 

And against the pier 

The waters rear 
And break with a sullen roar. 

Up comes the gale, 

And the mist-wrought veil 
Gives way to the lightning's glare, 

And the cloud-drifts fall, 

A sombre pall, 
O'er water, earth, and air. 

The storm-king flies, 

His whip he plies, 
And bellows down the wind. 

The lightning rash 

With blinding flash 
Comes pricking on behind. 



Rise, waters, rise, 

And taunt the skies 
With your swift-flitting form. 

Sweep, wild winds, sweep, 

And tear the deep 
To atoms in the storm. 

And the waters leapt, 

And the wild winds swept, 
And blew out the moon in the sky, 

And I laughed with glee, 

It was joy to me 
As the storm went raging by ! 

SUNSET 

The river sleeps beneath the sky, 

And clasps the shadows to its breast; 
The crescent moon shines dim on high ; 
And in the lately radiant west 
The gold is fading into gray. 
Now stills the lark his festive lay, 
And mourns with me the dying day. 

While in the south the first faint star 

Lifts to the night its silver face, 
And twinkles to the moon afar 

Across the heaven's graying space, 
Low murmurs reach me from the 

town, 

As Day puts on her sombre crown, 
And shakes her mantle darkly down., 



THE OLD APPLE-TREE 

There's a memory keeps a-runnin' 

Through my weary head to-night, 
An' I see a picture dancin' 

In the fire-flames' ruddy light ; 
'Tis the picture of an orchard 

Wrapped in autumn's- purple haze, 
With the tender light about it 

That I loved in other days. 
An' a-standin' in a corner 

Once again I seem to see 
The verdant leaves an' branches 

Of an old apple-tree. 

You perhaps would call it ugly, 

An' I don't know but it's so, 
When you look the tree all over 



142 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Unadorned by memory's glow ; 
For its boughs are gnarled an' crooked, 

An' its leaves are gettin' thin, 
An' the apples of its bearin' 

Wouldn't fill so large a bin 
As they used to. But I tell you, 

When it comes to pleasin' me, 
It's the dearest in the orchard, 

Is that old apple-tree. 

I would hide within its shelter, 

Settlin' in some cozy nook, 
Where no calls nor threats could stir me 

From the pages o' my book. 
Oh, that quiet, sweet seclusion 

In its fulness passeth words ! 
It was deeper than the deepest 

That my sanctum now affords. 
Why, the jaybirds an' the robins, 

They was hand in glove with me, 
As they winked at me an' warbled 

In that old apple-tree. 

ft was on its sturdy branches 

That in summers long ago 
I would tie my swing an' dangle 

In contentment to an' fro, 
Idly dreamin' childish fancies, 

Buildin' castles in the air, 
Makin' o' myself a hero 

Of romances rich an' rare. 
I kin shet my eyes an' see it 

Jest as plain as plain kin be, 
That same old swing a-danglin* 

To the old apple-tree. 

There's a rustic seat beneath it 

That I never kin forget. 
It's the place where me an' Hallie 

Little sweetheart used to set, 
When we'd wander to the orchard 

So's no listenin' ones could hear 
As I whispered sugared- nonsense 

Into her little willin' ear. 
Now my gray old wife is Hallie, 

An' I'm grayer still than she, 
But I'll not forget our courtin* 

'Neath the old apple tree. 

Life for us ain't all been summer, 

Eut I guess we've had our share 



Of its flittin' joys an' pleasures,. 

An' a sprinklin' of its care. 
Oft the skies have smiled upon us ; 

Then again we've seen 'em frovra 
Though our load was ne'er so heavy' 

That we longed to lay it down. 
But when death does come a-callin', 

This my last request shall be, 
That they'll bury me an' Hallie 

'Neath the old apple-tree. 



A PRAYER 

O Lord, the hard-won miles 
Have worn my stumbling feet : 

Oh, soothe me with thy smiles, 
And make my life complete. 

The thorns were thick and keen 
Where'er I trembling trod ; 

The way was long between 
My wounded feet and God. 

Where healing waters flow 
Do thou my footsteps lead. 

My heart is aching so ; 
Thy gracious balm I need. 

PASSION AND LOVE 

A maiden wept and, as a comforter, 
Came one who cried, " I love thee," and 

he seized 
Her in his arms and kissed her with hot 

breath, 
That dried the tears upon her flaming 

cheeks. 

While evermore his boldly blazing eye 
Burned into hers ; but she uncomforted 
Shrank from his arms and only wept the 

more. 

Then one came and gazed mutely in her 

face 
With wide and wistful eyes; but still 

aloof 

He held himself; as with a reverent fear, 
As one who knows some sacred presence 

nigh. 
And as she wept he mingled tear with 

tear, 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



That cheered her soul like dew a dusty 

flower, 
Until she smiled, approached, and touched 

his hand ! 



THE SEEDLING 

As a quiet little seedling 

Lay within its darksome bed, 

To itself it fell a-talking. 
And this is what it said : 



" I am not so very robust, 
But I'll do the best I can ; " 

And the seedling from that moment 
Its work of life began. 

So it pushed a little leaflet 

Up into the light of day, 
To examine the surroundings 

And show the rest the way. 

The leaflet liked the prospect, 
So it called its brother, Stem ; 

Then two other leaflets heard it, 
And quickly followed them. 

To be sure, the haste and hurry 

Made the seedling sweat and pant ; 

But almost before it knew it 
It found itself a plant. 

The sunshine poured upon it, 

And the clouds they gave a shower; 

And the little plant kept growing 
Till it found itself a flower. 



Little folks, be like the seedling, 
Always do the best you can ; 

Every child must share life's labor 
Just as well as every man. 

And the sun and showers will help you 
Through the lonesome, struggling 
hours, 

Till you raise to light and beauty 
Virtue's fair, unfading flowers. 



PROMISE AND FULFILMENT 

This pair of poems was so admired by 
Minnie Maddern Fiske that she wrote the 
author asking permission to use them on 
the stage. This was granted, and the 
lines were read many times with flattering 
applause. It is pathetic to reflect upon 
the fact that this very thing came in after 
years, to be a real part of the poet's heart 
history. At the moment when his joy 
should have been at its height, and his 
rose of love was ready for the blooming, 
it was discovered, alas, that, in very deed, 
a " worm was at its heart." 

I grew a rose within a garden fair, 

And, tending it with more than loving 

care, 

I thought how, with the glory of its bloom, 
I should the darkness of my life illume; 
And, watching, ever smiled to see the 

lusty bud 
Drink freely in the summer sun to tinct 

its blood. 

My rose began to open, and its hue 
Was sweet to me as to it sun and dew ; 
I watched it taking on its ruddy flame 
Until the day of perfect blooming came, 
Then hasted I with smiles to find it blush 
ing red 

Too late! Some thoughtless child had 
plucked my rose and fled ! 



FULFILMENT 

I grew a rose once more to please mine 
eyes. 

All things to aid it dew, sun, wind, fair 
skies 

Were kindly ; and to shield it from de 
spoil, 

I fenced it safely in with grateful toil. 

No other hand than mine shall pluck this 
flower, said I, 

And I was jealous of the bee that hovered 
nigh. 

It grew for days ; I stood hour after hour 
To watch the slow unfolding of the flower, 



144 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



And then 1 did not leave its side at all, 
Lest some mischance my flower should 

befall. 
At last, oh, joy ! the central petals burst 

apart. 
It blossomed but, alas ! a worm was at 

its heart ! 

SONG 

My heart to thy heart, 

My hand to thine ; 
My lips to thy lips, 
Kisses are wine 
Brewed for the lover in sunshine and 

shade ; 
Let me drink deep, then, my African maid. 

Lily to lily, 

Rose unto rose ; 

My love to thy love 

Tenderly grows. 

Rend not the oak and the ivy in twain, 
Nor the swart maid from her swarthier 
swain. 



AN ANTE-BELLUM SERMON 

We is gathahed hyeah, my brothahs, 

In dis howlin' wildaness, 
Fu' to speak some words of comfo't 

To each othah in distress. 
An' we chooses fu' ouah subjic' 

Dis we'll 'splain it by an' by ; 
An' de Lawd said, ' Moses, Moses,' 

An' de man said, ' Hyeah am L' " 

Now ole Pher'oh, down in Egypt, 

Was de wuss man evah bo'n, 
An' he had de Hebrew chillun 

Down dah wukin' in his co'n ; 
Twell de Lawd got tiahed o' his foolin', 

An' sez he : " I'll let him know 
Look hyeah, Moses, go tell Pher'oh 

Fu' to let dem chillun go. 

" An' ef he refuse to do it, 

I will make him rue de houah, 

Fu' I'll empty down on Egypt 
All de vials of my powah." 



Yes, he did an' Pher'oh's ahmy 
Wasn't wuth a ha'f a dime ; 

Fu' de Lawd will he'p his chillun, 
You kin trust him evah time. 



An' yo' enemies may 'sail you 

In de back an' in de front; 
But de Lawd is all aroun' you, 

Fu' to ba' de battle's brunt, 
Dey kin fo'ge yo' chains an' shackles 

F'om de mountains to de sea ; 
But de Lawd will sen' some Moses 

Fu' to set his chillun free. 

An' de Ian' shall hyeah his thundah, 

Lak a bias' Pom Gab'el's ho'n, 
Fu' de Lawd of hosts is mighty 

When he girds his ahmor on. 
But fu' feah some one mistakes me, 

I will pause right hyeah to say, 
Dat I'm still a-preachin' ancient, 

I ain't talkin' 'bout to-day. 

But I tell you, fellah christuns, 

Things '11 happen mighty strange -, 
Now, de Lawd done dis fu' Isrul, 

An' his ways don't nevah change, 
An' de love he showed to Isrul 

Wasn't all on Isrul spent ; 
Now don't run an' tell yo' mastahs 

Dat I's preachin' discontent. 

'Cause I isn't; I'se a-judgin' 

Bible people by deir ac's ; 
I'se a-givin' you de Scriptuah, 

I'se a-handin' you de fac's. 
Cose ole Pher'oh b'lieved in slav'ry, 

But de Lawd he let him see, 
Dat de people he put bref in, 

Evah mothah's son was free. 

An' dahs othah s thinks lak Pher'oh, 

But dey calls de Scriptuah liar, 
Fu' de Bible says " a servant 

Is a-worthy of his hire." 
An' you cain't git roun* nor thoo dati 

An' you cain't git ovah it, 
Fu' whatevah place you pit in, 

Dis hyeah Bible too '11 fit. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



So you see de Lawd's intention, 

Evah sence de woiT began, 
Was dat his almighty freedom 

Should belong to evah man, 
But I think it would be bettah, 

Ef I'd pause agin to say, 
Dat I'm talkin' 'bout ouah freedom 

In a Bibleistic way. 

But de Moses is a-comin', 

An' he's comin', suah and fas' 
We kin hyeah his feet a-trompin', 

We kin hyeah his trumpit bias'. 
But I want to wa'n you people, 

Don't you git too brigity ; 
An' don't you git to braggin' 

'Bout dese things, you wait an' see. 

But when Moses wit his powah 

Comes an' sets us chillun free, 
We will praise de gracious Mastah 

Dat has gin us liberty ; 
An' we'll shout ouah halleluyahs, 

On dat mighty reck'nin' day, 
When we's reco'nized ez citiz' 

Huh uh ! Chillun, let us pray ! 

ODE TO ETHIOPIA 

Mother Race ! to thee I bring 
This pledge of faith unwavering, 

This tribute to thy glory. 

1 know the pangs which thou didst feel, 
When Slavery crushed thee with its 

heel, 
With thy dear blood all gory. 

Sad days were those ah, sad indeed ! 
But through the land the fruitful seed 

Of better times was growing. 
The plant of freedom upward sprung, 
And spread its leaves so fresh and 
young 

Its blossoms now are blowing. 

On every hand in this fair land, 

Proud Ethiope's swarthy children stand 

Beside their fairer neighbor ; 
The forests flee before their stroke, 
Their hammers ring, their forges 
smoke, 

They stir in honest labour. 



They tread the fields where honor calls ; 
Their voices sound through senate halls 

In majesty and power. 
To right they cling ; the hymns they sing 
Up to the skies in beauty ring, 

And bolder grow each hour. 

Be proud, my Race, in mind and soul 
Thy name is writ on Glory's scroll 

In characters of fire. 
High 'mid the clouds of Fame's bright 

sky 
Thy banner's blazoned folds now fly, 

And truth shall lift them higher. 

Thou hast the right to noble pride, 
Whose spotless robes were purified 

By blood's severe baptism. 
Upon thy brow the cross was laid, 
And labor's painful sweat-beads made 

A consecrating chrism. 

No other race, or white or black, 
When bound as thou wrt, to the rack, 

So seldom stooped 10 grieving; 
No other race, when free i gain, 
Forgot the past and proved them men 

So noble in forgiving. 

Go on and up ! Our souls and eyes 
Shall follow thy continuous rise ; 

Our ears shall list thy story 
From bards who from thy root shall 

spring, 
And proudly tune their lyres to sing 

Of Ethiopia's glory. 



THE CORN-STALK FIDDLE 

When the corn's all cut and the bright 

stalks shine 
Like the burnished spears of a field of 

gold;' 
When the field-mice rich on the nubbins 

dine, 
And the frost comes white and the wind 

blows cold ; 
Then it's heigho! fellows and hi-diddlc 

diddle, 
For the time is ripe for the corn-stalk 

fiddle. 



U6 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



And you take a stalk that is straight and 

long, 

With an expert eye to its worthy points, 
And you think of the bubbling strains of 

song 
That are bound between its pithy 

joints 
Then you cut out strings, with a bridge in 

the middle, 
With a corn-stalk bow for a corn-stalk 

fiddle. 

Then the strains that grow as you draw 

the bow 

O'er the yielding strings with a prac 
ticed hand ! 
And the music's flow never loud but low 

Is the concert note of a fairy band. 
Oh, your dainty songs are a misty riddle 
To the simple sweets of the corn-stalk 
fiddle. 

When the eve comes on, and our work is 

done, 

And the run drops down with a tender 
glanr e, 

With their hearts all prime for the harm 
less fun, 

Come the neighbor girls for the evening's 
dance, 

And they wait for the well-known twist 
and twiddle 

More time than tune from the corn-stalk 
fiddle. 

Then brother Jabez takes the bow, 

While Ned stands off with Susan Bland, 

Then Henry stops by Milly Snow, 
And John takes Nellie Jones's hand, 

While I pair off with Mandy Biddle, 

And scrape, scrape, scrape goes the corn 
stalk fiddle. 

" Salute your partners," comes the call, 

" All join hands and circle round," 
"Grand train back," and " Balance all," 

Footsteps lightly spurn the ground. 
" Take your lady and balance down the 

middle " 

To the merry strains of the corn-stalk 
fiddle. 



So the night goes on and the dance is o'er 
And the merry girls are homeward gone 

But I see it all in my sleep once more, 
And I dream till the very break of dawn 

Of an impish dance on a red-hot griddle 

To the screech and scrape of a corn-stalk 
fiddle. 



THE MASTER-PLAYER 

An old, worn harp that had been played 
Till all its strings were loose and frayed, 
Joy, Hate, and Fear, each one essayed, 
To play. But each in turn had found 
No sweet responsiveness of sound. 

Then Love the Master-Player came 
With heaving breast and eyes aflame ; 
The Harp he took all undismayed, 
Smote on its strings, still strange to song, 
And brought forth music sweet and strong. 



THE MYSTERY 

I was not ; now I am a few days hence 
I shall not be ; I fain would look before 
And after, but can neither do ; some Power 
Or lack of power says " no " to all I would. 
I stand upon a wide and sunless plain, 
Nor chart nor steel to guide my steps 

aright. 

Whene'er, o'ercoming fear, I dare to move, 
I grope without direction and by chance. 
Some feign to hear a voice and feel a hand 
That draws them ever upward thro' the 

gloom. 

But I I hear no voice and touch no hand, 
Tho' oft thro' silence infinite I list, 
And strain my hearing to supernal sounds ; 
Tho' oft thro' fateful darkness do I reach, 
And stretch my hand to find that other 

hand. 

I question of th' eternal bending skies 
That seem to neighbor with the novice 

earth ; 

But they roll on, and daily shut their eyes 
On me, as I one day shall do on them, 
And tell me not the secret that I ask. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



147 



TWO SONGS 

A bee that was searching for sweets one 

day 

Through the gale of a rose garden hap 
pened to stray. 

In the heart of a rose he hid away, 
And forgot in his bliss the light of day, 
As sipping his honey he buzzed in song ; 
Though day was waning, he lingered long, 
For the rose was sweet, so sweet. 

A robin sits pluming his ruddy breast, 
And a madrigal sings to his love in her 

nest : 
" Oh, the skies they are blue, the fields are 

green, 
And the birds in your nest will soon be 

seen ! " 
She hangs on his words with a thrill of 

love, 

And chirps to him as he sits above, 
For the song is sweet, so sweet. 

A maiden was out on a summer's day 
With the winds and the waves and the 

flowers at play ; 

And she met with a youth of gentle air, 
With the light of the sunshine on his hair. 
Together they wandered the flowers 

among; 

They loved, and loving they lingered long, 
For to love is sweet, so sweet. 



Bird of my lady's bower, 

Sing her a song ; 
Tell her that every hour, 

All the day long, 
Thoughts of her come to me, 

Filling my brain 
With the warm ecstasy 

Of love's refrain. 

Little bird ! happy bird ! 

Being so near, 
Where e'en her slightest word 

Thou mayest hear, 
Seeing her glancing eyes, 

Sheen of her hair, 



Thou art in paradise, 
Would I were there. 

I am so far away, 

Thou art so near ; 
Plead with her, birdling gay, 

Plead with my dear. 
Rich be thy recompense, 

Fine be thy fee, 
If through thine eloquence 

She hearken me. 



THE PATH 

There are no beaten paths to Glory's 
height, 

There are no rules to compass greatness 
known ; 

Each for himself must cleave a path alone, 

And press his own way forward in the 
fight. 

Smooth is the way to ease and calm de 
light, 

And soft the road Sloth chooseth for her 
own ; 

But he who craves the flower of life full 
blown, 

Must struggle up in all his armor dight ! 

What though the burden bear him sorely 
down 

And crush to dust the mountain of his 
pride, 

Oh, then, with strong heart let him still 
abide ; 

For rugged is the roadway to renown, 

Nor may he hope to gain the envied 
crown 

Till he hath thrust the looming rocks 
aside. 



THE LAWYER'S WAYS 

This poem, written in the earlier years 
of Paul Laurence Dunbar's life is doubt 
less the fruit of his observations when a 
page in the Dayton court-house, and the 
discoveries that it shows he made even in 
his youth of the instability of the law, 
may have been one reason why he gave 
up his chances and his ambitions to be- 



148 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



come a lawyer, preferring to be a poet 
and an inspiration for his race. 

I've been list'nin' to them lawyers 

In the court house up the street, 
An' I've come to the conclusion 

That I'm most completely beat. 
Fust one feller riz to argy, 

An' he boldly waded in 
As he dressed the tremblin' pris'ner 

In a coat o' deep-dyed sin. 

Why, he painted him all over 

In a hue o' blackest crime, 
An' he smeared his reputation 

With the thickest kind o' grime, 
Tell I found myself a-wond'rin', 

In a misty way and dim, 
How the Lord had come to fashion 

Sich an awful man as him. 



Then the other lawyer started, 

An', with brimmin', tearful eyes, 
Said his client was a martyr 

That was brought to sacrifice. 
An' he give to that same pris'ner 

Every blessed human grace, 
Tell I saw the light o' virtue 

Fairly shinin' from his face. 

Then I own 'at I was puzzled 

How sich things could rightly be ; 
An' this aggervatin' question 

Seems to keep a-puzzlin' me. 
So, will some one please inform me, 

An' this mystery unroll 
How an angel an' a devil 

Can persess the self-same soul ? 



LONGING 

If you could sit with me beside the sea to 
day, 

And whisper with me sweetest dreamings 
o'er and o'er ; 

I think I should not find the clouds so dim 
and gray, 

And not so loud the waves complaining at 
the shore. 



If you could sit with me upon the shore 
to-day, 

And hold my hand in yours as in the days 
of old, 

I think I should not mind the chill baptis 
mal spray, 

Nor find my hand and heart and all the 
world so cold. 



If you could walk with me upon the strand 

to-day, 
And tell me that my longing love had won 

your own, 
I think all my sad thoughts would then be 

put away, 
And I could give back laughter for the 

Ocean's moan ! 



A BANJO SONG 

Oh, dere's lots o' keer an' trouble 

In dis world to swaller down ; 
An' ol' Sorrer's purty lively 

In her way o' gittin' roun'. 
Yet dere's times when I furgit 'em,- 

Aches an' pains an' troubles all, 
An' it's when I tek at ebenin' 

My ol' banjo f 'om de wall. 



'Bout de time dat night is fallin* 

An' my daily wu'k is done, 
An' above de shady hilltops 

I kin see de settin' sun ; 
When de quiet, restful shadders 

Is beginnin' jes' to fall, 
Den I take de little banjo 

F'om its place upon de wall. 



Den my fam'ly gadders roun' me 

In de fadin' o' de light, 
Ez I strike de strings to try 'em 

Ef dey all is tuned er-right. 
An' it seems we're so nigh heaben 

We kin hyeah de angels sing 
When de music o' dat banjo 

Sets my cabin all er-ring 




OH, DERE'S LOTS o' KEER AN' TROUBLE 




MALE AN' FEMALE, SMALL AN' Bi< 






OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



An* my wile an' all de othahs, 

Male an' female, small an' big, 
Even up to gray-haired granny, 

Seem jes' boun' to do a jig; 
'Twell I change de style o' music, 

Change de movement an* de time, 
An' de ringin' little banjo 

Plays an ol' hea't-feelin' hime. 

An' somehow my th'oat gits choky, 

An' a lump keeps tryin' to rise 
Lak it wan'ed to ketch de water 

Dat was flowin' to my eyes; 
An' I feel dat I could sorter 

Knock de socks clean off o* sin 
Ez I hyeah my po' ol' granny 

Wif huh tremblin' voice jine in. 

Den we all th'ow in our voices 

Fu' to he'p de chune out too, 
Lak a big camp-meetin' choiry 

Tryin' to sing a mou'nah th'oo. 
An' our th'oahts let out de music, 

Sweet an' solemn, loud an' free, 
'Twell de raftahs o' my cabin 

Echo wif de melody. 

Oh, de music o' de banjo, 

Quick an' deb'lish, solemn, slow, 
Is de greates' joy an' solact 

Dat a weary slave kin know ! 
So jes' let me hyeah it ringin', 

Dough de chune be po' an' rough, 
It's a pleasure ; an' de pleasures 

O' dis life is few enough. 

Now, de blessed little angels 

Up in heaben, we are told, 
Don't do nothin' all dere lifetime 

'Ceptin' play on ha'ps o' gold. 
Now I think heaben 'd be mo' home 
like 

Ef we'd hyeah some music fall 
F'om a real ol'-fashioned banjo, 

Like dat one upon de wall. 

NOT THEY WHO SOAR 

Not they who soar, but they who plod 
Their rugged way, unhelped, to God 
Are heroes ; they who higher fare, 
And, flying, fan the upper air, 



Miss all the toil that hugs the sod. 
'Tis they whose backs have felt the rod, 
Whose feet have pressed the path unshod, 
May smile upon defeated care, 
Not they who soar. 

High up there are no thorns to prod, 
Nor boulders lurking 'neath the clod 
To turn the keenness of the share, 
For flight is ever free and rare ; 
But heroes they the soil who've trod, 
Not they who soar ! 

WHITTIER 

Not o'er thy dust let there be spent 
The gush of maudlin sentiment ; 
Such drift as that is not for thee, 
Whose life and deeds and songs agree, 
Sublime in their simplicity. 

Nor shall the sorrowing tear be shed. 
O singer sweet, thou art not dead ! 
In spite of time's malignant chill, 
With living fire thy songs shall thrill, 
And men shall say, " He liveth still ! " 

Great poets never die, for Earth 
Doth count their lives of too great wortk 
To lose them from her treasured store; 
So shall thou live for evermore 
Though far thy form from mortal ken 
Deep in the hearts and minds of men. 

ODE FOR MEMORIAL DAY 

Done are the toils and the wearisome 

marches, 
Done is the summons of bugle and 

drum. 

Softly and sweetly the sky overarches, 
Shelt'ring a land where Rebellion is 

dumb. 
Dark were the days of the country's de 

rangement, 
Sad were the hours when the conflict 

was on, 

But through the gloom of fraternal es 
trangement 
God sent his light, and we welcome the 

dawn. 
O'er the expanse of our mighty dominions, 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Sweeping away to the uttermost parts, 
Peace, the wide-flying, on untiring pin 
ions, 

Bringeth her message of joy to our 
hearts. 

Ah, but this joy which our minds cannot 

measure, 

What did it cost for our fathers to gain ! 
Bought at the price of the heart's dearest 

treasure, 

Born out of travail and sorrow and pain ; 
Born in the battle where fleet Death was 

flying, 
Slaying with sabre-stroke bloody and 

fell; 
Born where the heroes and martyrs were 

dying, 

Torn by the fury of bullet and shell. 
Ah, but the day is past : silent the rattle, 
And the confusion that followed the 

fight. 

Peace to the heroes who died in the battle, 
Martyrs to truth and the crowning of 
Right ! 

Out of the blood of a conflict fraternal, 

Out of the dust and the dimness of death, 
Burst into blossoms of glory eternal 

Flowers that sweeten the world with 

their breath. 

Flowers of charity, peace, and devotion 
Bloom in the hearts that are empty of 

strife ; 
Love that is boundless and broad as the 

ocean 

Leaps into beau y and fulness of life. 
So, with the singing of paeans and chorals, 
And with the flag flashing high in the 

sun, 
Place on the graves of our heroes the 

laurels 
Which their unfaltering valor has won ! 



PREMONITION 

Dear heart, good-night ! 
Nay, list awhile that sweet voice singing 

When the world is all so bright, 
And the sound of song sets the heart 
a-ringing, 



Oh, love, it is not right 

Not then to say, " Good-night." 

Dear heart, good-night ! 
The late winds in the lake weeds shiver, 

And the spray flies cold and white. 
And the voice that sings gives a telltale 

quiver 
" Ah, yes, the world is bright, 

But, dearest heart, good-night ! " 

Dear heart, good-night ! 
And do not longer seek to hold me 1 

For my soul is in affright 
As the fearful glooms in their pall enfold 

me. 
See him who sang how white 

And still; so, dear, good-night. 

Dear heart, good-night ! 
Thy hand I'll press no more forever, 
And mine eyes shall lose the light ; 
For the great white wraith by the winding 

river 
Shall check my steps with might. 

So, dear, good-night, good-night! 

RETROSPECTION 

When you and I were young, the days 
Were filled with scent of pink and rose, 
And full of joy from dawn till close, 

From morning's mist till evening's haze. 
And when the robin sung his song 
The verdant woodland ways along, 
We whistled louder than he sung. 

And school was joy, and work was sport 

For which the hours were all too short, 
When you and I were young, my boy, 
When you and I were young. 

When you and I were young, the woods ^ 
Brimmed bravely o'er with every joy 
To charm the happy-hearted boy. 

The quail turned out her timid broods; 
The prickly copse, a hostess fine, 
Held high black cups of harmless wine; 
And low the laden grape-vine swung 

With beads of night-kissed amethyst 

Where buzzing lovers held their tryst, 
When you and I were young, my boy, 
When you and I were young. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



153 



When you and I were young, the cool 
And fresh wind fanned our fevered 

brows 

When tumbling o'er the seer ted mows, 
Or stripping by the dimpling pool, 

Sedge-fringed about its shimmering face, 

Save where we'd worn an ent'ring place. 

How with our shouts the calm banks 

rung ! 

How flashed the spray as we plunged in, 
Pure gems that never caused a sin ! 
When you and I were young, my boy, 
When you and I were young. 

When you and I were young, we heard 
All sounds of Nature with delight, 
The whirr of wing in sudden flight, 

The chirping of the baby-bird. 

The columbine's red bells were rung ; 
The locust's vested chorus sung ; 

While every wind his zithern strung 

To high and holy-sounding *eys, 

And played sonatas in the trees 

When you and I were young, my boy, 
When you and I were young. 

When you and I were young, we knew 
To shout and laugh, to work and play, 
And night was partner to the day 
In all our joys. So swift time flew 
On silent wings that, ere we wist, 
The fleeting years had fled unmissed ; 
And from our hearts this cry was 

wrung 
To fill with fond regret and tears 

The days of our remaining years 

" When you and I were young, my boy, 
When you and I were young." 



UNEXPRESSED 

Deep in my heart that aches with the re 
pression, 

And strives with plenitude of bitter pain, 
There lives a thought that clamors for ex 
pression, 
And spends its undelivered force in vain. 

What boots it that some other may have 
thought it ? 



The right of thoughts' expression is 

divine; 

The price of pain I pay for it has bought it, 
I care not who lays claim to it 'tis 
mine ! 

And yet not mine until it be delivered ; 
The manner of its birth shall prove the 

test. 

Alas, alas, my rock of pride is shivered 
I beat my brow the thought still unex 
pressed. 



SPRING SONG 

A blue-bell springs upon the ledge, 
A lark sits singing in the hedge ; 
Sweet perfumes scent the balmy air, 
And life is brimming everywhere. 
What lark and breeze and bluebird sing, 
Is Spring, Spring, Spring ! 

Nor more the air is sharp and cold ; 
The planter wends across the wold, 
And, glad, beneath the shining sky 
We wander forth, my love and I. 
And ever in our hearts doth ring 
This song of Spring, Spring ! 

For life is life and love is love, 
'Twixt maid and man or dove and dove. 
Life may be short, life may be long, 
But love will come, and to its song 
Shall this refrain forever cling 
Of Spring, Spring, Spring ! 

SONG OF SUMMER 

Dis is gospel weathah sho' 

Hills is sawt o' hazy. 
Meddahs level ez a flo' 

Callin' to de lazy. 
Sky all white wif streaks o' blue, 

Sunshine softly gleamin', 
D'ain't no wuk hit's right to do, 

Nothin' 's right but dreamin'. 

Dreamin' by de rivah side 

Wif de watahs glist'nin', 
Feelin' good an' satisfied 

Ez you lay a-list'nin* 



154 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



To the little nakid boys 

Splashin' in de watah, 
Hollerin' fu' to spress deir joys 

Jes' lak youngsters ought to. 

Squir'l a-tippin' on his toes, 

So's to hide an' view you ; 
Whole flocks o' camp-meetin' crows 

Shoutin' hallelujah. 
Peckahwood erpon de tree 

Tappin' lak a hammah; 
Jaybird chattin' wif a bee, 

Tryin' to teach him grammah. 

Breeze is blowin' wif perfume, 

Jes' enough to tease you ; 
Hollyhocks is all in bloom, 

Smellin' fu' to please you. 
Go 'way, folks, an' let me 'lone, 

Times is gettin' dearah 
Summah's settin' on de th'one, 

An' I'm a-layin' neah huh ! 



TO LOUISE 

When Paul Laurence Dunbar, young 
and full of timidity, was trying to sell his 
little book " Majors & Minors," from house 
to house, he sometimes became greatly 
discouraged. Upon the evening of a par 
ticularly disheartening day, he went to 
the home of his patron, Dr. H. A. Tobey, 
in Toledo, Ohio, and told him that he 
would never again have the courage to 
offer a book for sale to any man. His 
friend endeavored to encourage him, but 
he was despondent, and left the doctor 
with tears streaming down his cheeks. 
Just as poor Dunbar was leaving, the little 
daughter of his host, Miss Louise Tobey, ran 
to him and in the sweet, half-bashful way 
of a child, gave him a beautiful rose. The 
next morning, the young poet sought the 
" wee lassie," and handed her a bit of 
paper. Upon this sheet was written one 
of the most perfect of his poems " Lines 
to Louise." 

Oh, the poets may sing of their Lady 
Irenes, 



And may rave in their rhymes about won 
derful queens ; 

But I throw my poetical wings to the 
bree. e, 

And soar ui a song to my Lady Louise. 

A sweet little maid, who is dearer, I ween, 

Than any fair duchess, or even a queen. 

When speaking of her I can't plod in my 
prose, 

For she's the wee lassie who gave me a 
rose. 

Since poets, from seeing a lady's lip 

curled, 
Have written fair verse that has sweetened 

the world ; 
Why, then, should not I give the space of 

an hour 

To making a song in return for a flower ? 
I have found in my life it has not been 

so long 
There are too few of flowers too little of 

song. 
So out of that blossom, this lay of mine 

grows, 
For the dear little lady who gave me the 

rose. 

I thank God for innocence, dearer than 

Art, 
That lights on a by-way which leads to 

the heart, 

And led by an impulse no less than divine, 
Walks into the temple and sits at the 

shrine. 
I would rather pluck daisies that grow in 

the wild, 
Or take one simple rose from the hand of 

a child, 
Than to breathe the rich fragrance of 

flowers that bide 
In the gardens of luxury, passion, and 

pride. 

I know not, my wee one, how came you to 

know 
Which way to my heart was the right way 

to go ; 

Unless in your purity, soul-clean and clear, 
God whispers his messages into your ear. 
You have now had my song, let me end 

with a prayer 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



155 



That your life may be always sweet, 

happy, and fair ; 
That your joys may be many, and absent 

your woes, 
O dear little lady who gave me the rose ! 

THE RIVALS 

'Twas three an' thirty year ago 

When I was ruther young, you know, 

I had my last an' only fight 

About a gal one summer night. 

'Twas me an' Zekel Johnson ; Zeke 

'N* me'd be'n spattin' 'bout a week, 

Each of us tryin' his best to show 

That he was Liza Jones's beau. 

We couldn't neither prove the thing, 

Fur she was fur too sharp to fling 

One over fur the other one 

An' by so doin' stop the fun 

That we chaps didn't have the sense 

To see she got at our expense, 

But that's the way a feller does, 

Fur boys is fools an' alms was. 

An' when they's females in the game 

I reckon men's about the same. 

Well, Zeke an' me went on that way 

An' fussed an' quarreled day by day ; 

While Liza, mindin' not the fuss, 

Jest kep' a-goin' with both of us, 

Tell we pore chaps, that's Zeke an' me, 

Was jest plum mad with jealousy. 

Well, fur a time we kep' our places, 

An' only showed by frownin' faces 

An' looks 'at well our meanin' boded 

How full o' fight we both was loaded. 

At last it come, the thing broke out, 

An' this is how it come about. 

One night ('twas fair, you'll all agree) 

I got Eliza's company, 

An' leavin' Zekel in the lurch, 

Went trottin' off with her to church. 

An' jest as we had took our seat 

(Eliza lookin' fair an' sweet), 

Why, I jest couldn't help but grin 

When Zekel come a bouncin' in 

As furious as the law allows. 

He'd jest be'n up to Liza's house, 

To find her gone, then come to church 

To have this end put to his search. 

I guess I laffed that meetin' through, 



An' not a mortal word I knew 

Of what the preacher preached er read 

Er what the choir sung er said. 

Fur every time I'd turn my head 

I couldn't skeercely help but see 

'At Zekel had his eye on me. 

An' he 'ud sort o' turn an' twist 

An' grind his teeth an' shake his fist. 

I laughed, fur la ! the hull church seen 

us, 

An' knowed that suthin' was between us. 
Well, meetin' out, we started hum, 
I sorter feelin' what would come. 
We'd jest got out, when up stepped Zeke, 
An' said, " Scuse me, I'd like to speak 
To you a minute." " Cert," said I 
A-nudgin' Liza on the sly 
An' laughin' in my sleeve with glee, 
I asked her, please, to pardon me. 
We walked away a step er two, 
Jest to git out o' Liza's view, 
An' then Zeke said, " I want to know 
Ef you think you're Eliza's beau, 
An' 'at I'm goin' to let her go 
Hum with sich a chap as you ? " 
An' I said bold, " You bet I do." 
Then Zekel, sneerin', said 'at he 
Didn't want to hender me. 
But then he 'lowed the gal was his 
An' 'at he guessed he knowed his biz, 
An' wasn't feared o' all my kin 
With all my friends an' chums throwed 

in. 

Some other things he mentioned there 
That no born man could noways bear 
Er think o' ca'mly tryin' to stan' 
Ef Zeke had be'n the bigges' man 
In town, an' not the leanest runt 
'At time an' labor ever stunt. 
An' so I let my fist go " bim," 
I thought I'd mos' nigh finished him. 
But Zekel didn't take it so. 
He jest ducked down an' dodged my 

blow 

An' then come back at me so hard, 
I guess I must 'a' hurt the yard, 
Er spilet the grass plot where I fell, 
An' sakes alive it hurt me ; well, 
It wouldn't be'n so bad, you see, 
But he jest kep' a-hittin' me. 
An' I hit back an' kicked an' pawed, 



156 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



But 't seemed 'twas mostly air I clawed, 
While Zekel used his science well 
A-makin' every motion tell. 
He punched an' hit, why, goodness 

lands, 

Seemed like he had a dozen hands. 
Well, afterwhile they stopped the fuss, 
An' some one kindly parted us. 
All beat an' cuffed an' clawed an' 

scratched, 

An' needin' both our faces patched, 
Each started hum a different way ; 
An' what o' Liza, do you say, 
Why, Liza little humbug dern her, 
Why, she'd gone home with Hiram 

Turner. 



THE LOVER AND THE MOON 

A lover whom duty called over the wave, 
With himself communed : " Will my 

love be true 

If left to herself ? Had I better not sue 
Some friend to watch over her, good and 

grave ? 
But my friend might fail in my need," 

he said, 

" And I return to find love dead. 
Since friendships fade like the flow'rs of 

June, 
I will leave her in charge of the stable 



Then he said to the moon : " O dear old 

moon, 
Who for years and years from thy throne 

above 
Hast nurtured and guarded young lovers 

and love, 

My heart has but come to its waiting June, 
And the promise time of the budding 

vine ; 

Oh, guard thee well this love of mine." 
And he harked him then while all was 

still, 
And the pale moon answered and said, 

" I will." 

And he sailed in his ship o'er many seas, 
And he wandered wide o'er strange far 
strands : 



In isles of the south and in Orient lands, 
Where pestilence lurks in the breath of the 

breeze. 
But his star was high, so he braved the 

main, 

And sailed him blithely home again ; 
And with joy he bended his footsteps 

soon 
To learn of his love from the matron 

moon. 

She sat as of yore, in her olden place, 
Serene as death, in her silver chair. 
A white rose gleamed in her whiter hair, 

And the tint of a blush was on her face. 
At sight of the youth she sadly bowed 
And hid her face 'neath a gracious cloud. 
She faltered faint on the night's dim 

marge, 

But " How," spoke the youth, " have 
you kept your charge ? " 

The moon was sad at a trust ill-kept ; 
The blush went out in her blanching 

cheek, 
And her voice was timid and low and 

weak, 
As she made her plea and sighed and 

wept. 

" Oh, another prayed and another plead, 
And I couldn't resist," she answering 

said ; 
" But love still grows in the hearts of 

men : 
Go forth, dear youth, and love again. " 

But he turned him away from her proffered 
grace. 

" Thou art false, O moon, as the hearts 
of men, 

I will not, will not love again." 
And he turned sheer 'round with a soul- 
sick face 

To the sea, and cried : " Sea, curse the 
moon, 

Who makes her vows and forgets so 
soon." 

And the awful sea with anger stirred, 

And his breast heaved hard as he lay 
and heard. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



157 



And ever tli2 moon wept down in rain, 

And ever her sighs rose high in wind ; 

But the earth and sea were deaf and 

blind, 

And she wept and sighed her griefs in 
vain. 

And ever at night, when the storm is 
fierce, 

The cries of a wraith through the thun 
ders pierce ; 

And the waves strain their awful hands 
on high 

To tear the false moon from the sky. 

CONSCIENCE AND REMORSE 

" Good-bye," I said to my conscience 

" Good-bye for aye and aye," 
And I put her hands off harshly, 

And turned my face away ; 
And conscience smitten sorely 

Returned not from that day. 

But a time came when my spirit 

Grew weary of its pace ; 
And I cried : " Come back, my conscience ; 

1 long to see thy face." 
But conscience cried : "I cannot; 

Remorse sits in my place." 

IONE 

I 

Ah, yes, 'tis sweet still to remember, 
Though 'twere less painful to forgef; 

For while my heart glows like an ember, 

. Mine eyes with sorrow's drops are wet, 
And, oh, my heart is aching yet. 

It is a law of mortal pain 

That old wounds, long accounted well, 
Beneath the memory's potent spell, 

Will wake to life and bleed again. 

So 'tis with me ; it might be better 
If I should turn no look behind, 

If I could curb my heart, and fetter 
From reminiscent gaze my mind, 
Or let my soul go blind go blind ! 

But would I do it if I could ? 

Nay ! ease at such a price were spurned ; 
For, since my love was once returned, 

All that I suffer seenieth good. 



I know, I know it is the fashion, 

When love has left some heart distressed, 
To weight the air with wordful passion I 

But I am glad that in my breast 

I ever held so dear a guest. 
Love does not come at every nod, 

Or every voice that calleth " hasten " ; 

He seeketh out some heart to chasten, 
And whips it, wailing, up to God ! 

Love is no random road wayfarer 

Who where he may must sip his glass. 

Love is the King, the Purple- Wearer, 
Whose guard recks not of tree or grass 
To blaze the way that he may pass. 

What if my heart be in the blast 
That heralds his triumphant way ; 
Shall I repine, shall I not say : 

" Rejoice, my heart, the King has passed ! " 

In life, each heart holds some sad story 

The saddest ones are never told. 
I, too, have dreamed of fame and glory, 

And viewed the future bright with gold ; 

But that is a: a tale long told. 
Mine eyes hav lost their youthful flash, 

My cunning nand has lost its art ; 

I am not oM, but in my heart 
The ember lies beneath the ash. 



I loved ! Why not ? My heart was 
youthful, 

My mind was filled with healthy thought 
He doubts not whose own self is truthful, 

Doubt by dishonesty is taught ; 

So loved I boldly, fearing naught. 
I did not walk this lowly earth ; 

Mine was a newer, higher sphere, 

W T here youth was long and life was dear, 
And all save love was little worth. 

Her likeness ! Would that I might limn it, 
As Love did, with enduring art; 

Nor dust of days nor death may dim it, 
Where it lies graven on my heart, 
Of this sad fabric of my life a part. 

I would that I might paint her now 
As I beheld her in that day, 
Ere her first bloom had passed away, 

And left the lines upon her brow. 



158 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



A face serene that, beaming brightly, 
Disarmed the hot sun's glances bold. 

A foot that kissed the ground so lightly, 
He frowned in wrath and deemed her 

cold, 
But loved her still though he was old. 

A form where every maiden grace 

Bloomed to perfection's richest flower, 
The statued pose of conscious power, 

Like lithe-limbed Dian's of the chase. 

Beneath a brow too fair for frowning, 
Like moonlit deeps that glass the skies 

Till all the hosts above seem drowning, 
Looked forth her steadfast hazel eyes, 
With gaze serene and purely wise. 

And over all, her tresses rare, 

Which, when, with his desire grown 

weak, 
The Night bent down to kiss her cheek, 

Entrapped and held him captive there. 

This was lone ; a spirit finer 

Ne'er burned to ash its house of clay ; 
A soul instinct with fire diviner 

Ne'er fled athwart the face of day, 

And tempted Time with earthly stay. 
Her loveliness was not alone 

Of face and form and tresses' hue ; 

For aye a pure, high soul shone through 
Her every act : this was lone. 

II 

Twas in the radiant summer weather, 
When God looked, smiling, from the 
sky ; 

And we went wand'ring much together 
By wood and lane, lone and I, 
Attracted by the subtle tie 

Of common thoughts and common tastes, 
Of eyes whose vision saw the same, 
And freely granted beauty's claim 

Where others found but worthless wastes. 

We paused to hear the far bells ringing 
Across the distance, sweet and clear. 

We listened to the wild bird's singing 
The song he meant for his mate's ear, 
And deemed our chance to do so dear 

We loved to watch the warrior Sun, 



With flaming shield and flaunting crest, 
Go striding down the gory West, 
When Day's long fight was fought and 



And life became a different story ; 

Where'er I looked, I saw new light. 
Earth's self assumed a greater glory, 

Mine eyes were cleared to fuller sight. 

Then first I saw the need and might 
Of that fair band, the singing throng, 

Who, gifted with the skill divine, 

Take up the threads of life, spun fine, 
And weave them into soulful song. 

They sung for me, whose passion pressing 
My soul, found vent in song nor line. 

They bore the burden of expressing 
All that I felt, with art's design, 
And every word of theirs was mine. 

I read them to lone, ofttimes, 

By hill and shore, beneath fair skies, 
And she looked deeply in mine eyes, 

And knew my love spoke through their 
rhymes. 

Her life was like the stream that floweth, 
And mine was like the waiting sea ; 

Her love was like the flower that bloweth, 
And mine was like the searching bee 
I found her sweetness all for me. 

God plied him in the mint of time, 
And coined for us a golden day, 
And rolled it ringing down life's way 

With love's sweet music in its chime. 

And God unclasped the Book of Ages, 
Aiid laid it open to our sight ; 

Upon the dimness of its pages, 

So long consigned to rayless night, 
He shed the glory of his light. 

We read them well, we read them long, 
And ever thrilling did we see 
That love ruled all humanity, 

The master passion, pure and strong. 

Ill 

To-day my skies are bare and ashen, 

And bend on me without a beam. 

Since love is held the master-passion, 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



159 



Its loss must be the pain supreme 

And grinning Fate has wrecked my 

dream. 
But pardon, dear departed Guest, 

I will not rant, I will not rail ; 

For good the grain must feel the flail ; 
There are whom love has never blessed. 

I had and have a younger brother, 
One whom I loved and love to-day 

As never fond and doting mother 
Adored the babe who found its way 
From heavenly scenes into her day. 

Oh, he was full of youth's new wine, 
A man on life's ascending slope, 
Flushed with ambition, full of hope ; 

And every wish of his was mine. 

A kingly youth ; the way before him 
Was thronged with victories to be won ; 

So joyous, too, the heavens o'er him 

Were bright with an unchanging sun, 
His days with rhyme were overrun. 

Toil had not taught him Nature's prose, 
Tears had not dimmed his brilliant eyes, 
And sorrow had not made him wise ; 

His life was in the budding rose. 

I know not how I came to waken, 

Some instinct pricked my soul to sight ; 

My heart by some vague thrill was 

shaken, 

A thrill so true and yet so slight, 
I hardly deemed I read aright. 

As when a sleeper, ign'rant why, 
Not knowing what mysterious hand 
Has called him out of slumberland, 

Starts up to find some danger nigh. 

Love is a guest that comes, unbidden, 
But, having come, asserts his right ; 

He will not be repressed nor hidden. 
And so my brother's dawning plight 
Became uncovered to my sight. 

Some sound-mote in his passing tone 
Caught in the meshes of my ear; 
Some little glance, a shade too dear, 

Betrayed the love he bore lone. 

What could I do ? He was my brother, 
And young, and full of hope and trust ; 



I could not, dared not try to smother 
His flame, and turn his heart to dust 
I knew how oft life gives a crust 

To starving men who cry for bread ; 
But he was young, so few his days, 
He had not learned tne great world's 
ways, 

Nor Disappointment's volumes read. 

However fair and rich the booty, 

I could not make his loss my gain. 
For love is dear, but dearer, duty, 

And here my way was clear and plain. 

I saw how I could save him pain. 
And so, with all my day grown dim, 

That this loved brother's sun might 
shine, 

I joined his suit, gave over mine, 
And sought lone, to plead for him. 

I found her in an eastern bower, 
Where all day long the am'rous sun 

Lay by to woo a timid flower. 

This day his course was well-nigh run, 
But still with lingering art he spun 

Gold fancies on the shadowed wall. 

The vines waved soft and green above, 
And there where one might tell his love, 

I told my griefs I told her all ! 

I told her all, and as she hearkened, 
A tear-drop fell upon her dress. 

With grief her flushing brow was darkened ; 
One sob that she could not repress 
Betrayed the depths of her distress. 

Upon her grief my sorrow fed, 

And I was bowed with unlived years, 
My heart swelled with a sea of tears, 

The tears my manhood could not shed. 

The world is Rome, and Fate is Nero, 
Disporting in the hour of doom. 

God made us men ; times make the hero 
But in that awful space of gloom 
I gave no thought but sorrow's room. 

All all was dim within that bower, 
What time the sun divorced the day; 
And all the shadows, glooming gray, 

Proclaimed the sadness of the hour. 

She could not speak no word was needed ; 
Her look, half strength and half despair, 



T6o 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Told me I had not vainly pleaded, 
That she would not ignore my prayer. 
And so she turned and left me there, 

And as she went, so passed my bliss ; 
She loved me, I could not mistake 
But for her own and my love's sake, 

Her womanhood could rise to this! 

My wounded heart fled swift to cover, 

And life at times seemed very drear. 
My brother proved an ardent lover 

What had so young a man to fear ? 

He wed lone within the year. 
No shadow clouds her tranquil brow, 

Men speak her husband's name with 
pride, 

While she sits honored at his side 
She is she must be happy now ! 

I doubt the course I took no longer, 

Since those I love seem satisfied. 
The bond between them*vill grow stronger 

As they go forward side by side ; 

Then will my pains be justified. 
Their joy is mine, and that is best 

I am not totally bereft ; 

For I have still the mem'ry left 
Love stopped with me a Royal Guest ! 



RELIGION 

It was doubtless about the time that 
Mr. Dunbar reached his final decision not 
to enter the ministry that he wrote these 
lines, which have at least the ring of sin 
cerity to recommend them. One of Mr. 
Dunbar's marked characteristics was fear 
lessness, and he usually wrote to the point 
regardless of public prejudices or opinions. 

I am no priest of crooks nor creeds, 
For human wants and human needs 
Are more to me than prophets' deeds; 
And human tears and human cares 
Affect me more than human prayers. 

Go, cease your wail, lugubrious saint ! 
You fret high Heaven with your plaint. 
Is this the " Christian's joy " you paint ? 
Is this the Christian's boasted bliss? 
Avails your faith no more than this ? 



Take up your arms, come out with me, 
Let Heav'n alone ; humanity 
Needs more and Heaven less from thee. 
With pity for mankind look 'round; 
Help them to rise and Heaven is found. 



DEACON JONES' GRIEVANCE 

I've been watchin' of 'em, parson, 

An' I'm sorry fur to say 
'At my mind is not contented 

With the loose an' keerless way 
'At the young folks treat the music; 

'Tain't the proper sort o' choir. 
Then I don't believe in Christuns 

A-singin' hymns for hire. 

But I never would 'a' murmured 

An' the matter might 'a' gone 
Ef it wasn't fur the antics 

'At I've seen 'em kerry on ; 
So I thought it was my dooty 

Fur to come to you an' ask 
Ef you wouldn't sort o' gently 

Take them singin' folks to task. 

Fust, the music they've be'n singin' 

Will disgrace us mighty soon ; 
It's a cross between a opry 

An' a ol' cotillion tune. 
With its dashes an' its quavers 

An' its highfalutin style 
Why, it sets my head to swimmin' 

When I'm comin' down the aisle. 



Now it might be almost decent 

Ef it wasn't fur the way 
'At they git up there an' sing it, 

Hey dum diddle, loud and gay. 
Why, it shames the name o' sacred 

In its brazen worldliness, 
An' they've even got " Ol' Hundred " 

In a bold, new-fangled dress. 

You'll excuse me, Mr. Parson, 

Ef I seem a little sore ; 
But I've sung the songs of Isr'el 

For threescore years an' more, 
An' it sort o' hurts my feelin's 



OF PAUL LAURENCE D UNBAR 



Fur to see 'em put away 
Fur these harum-scarum ditties 
'At is capturin' the day. 

There's anuther little happ'nin' 

'At I'll mention while I'm here, 
Jes' to show 'at my objections 

All is offered sound and clear. 
It was one day they was singin' 

An' was doin' well enough 
Singin' good as people could sing 

Sich an awful mess o' stuff 

When the choir give a holler, 

An' the organ give a groan, 
An' they left one weak-voiced feller 

A-singin' there alone ! 
But he stuck right to the music, 

Tho' 'twas tryin' as could be ; 
An' when I tried to help him, 

Why, the hull church scowled at me. 

You say that's so-low singin', 

Well, I pray the Lord that I 
Growecl up when folks was willin' 

To sing their hymns so high. 
Why, we never had sich doin's 

In the good oF Bethel days, 
When the folks was all contented 

With the simple songs of praise. 

Now I may have spoke too open, 

But 'twas too hard to keep still, 
An' I hope you'll tell the singers 

'At I bear 'em n^ ill-will. 
'At they all may git to glory 

Is my wish an' my desire, 
But they'll need some extry trainin' 

'Fore they jine the heavenly choir. 

ALICE 

Know you, winds that blow your course 

Down the verdant valleys, 
That somewhere you must, perforce, 

Kiss the brow of Alice ? 
When her gentle face you find, 
Kiss it softly, naughty wind. 

Roses waving fair and sweet 
Thro* the garden alleys, 
10 



Grow into a glory meet 
For the eye of Alice ; 
Let the wind your offering bear 
Of sweet perfume, faint and rare. 

Lily holding crystal dew 
In your pure white chalice, 

Nature kind hath fashioned you 
Like the soul of Alice; 

It of purest white is wrought, 

Filled with gems of crystal thought 



AFTER THE QUARREL 

So we, who've supped the self-same cup, 

To-night must lay our friendship by ; 
Your wrath has burned your judgment up, 

Hot breath has blown the ashes high. 
You say that you are wronged ah, well, 

I count that friendship poor, at best 
A bauble, a mere bagatelle, 

That cannot stand so slight a test. 

I fain would still have been your friend, 

And talked and laughed and loved with 

you; 
But since it must, why, let it end ; 

The false but dies, 'tis not the true. 
So we are favored, you and I, 

Who only want the living truth. 
It was not good to nurse the lie ; 

'Tis well it died in harmless youth. 

I go from you to-night to sleep. 

Why, what's the odds ? why should I 

grieve ? 
I have no fund of tears to weep 

For happenings that undeceive. 
The days shall come, the days shall go 

Just as they came and went before. 
The sun shall shine, the streams shall flow 

Though you and I are friends no more. 

And in the volume of my years, 

Where all my thoughts and acts shall be, 

The page whereon your name appears 
Shall be forever sealed to me. 

Not that I hate you over-much, 
'Tis less of hate than love defied; 



162 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Howe'er, our hands no more shall touch, 
We'll go our ways, the world is wide. 

BEYOND THE YEARS 

I 

Beyond the years the answer lies, 
Beyond where brood the grieving skies 

And Night drops tears. 
Where Faith rod-chastened smiles to rise 

And doff its fears, 
And carping Sorrow pines and dies 

Beyond the years. 



Beyond the years the prayer for rest 
Shall beat no more within the breast ; 

The darkness clears, 

And Morn perched on the mountain's 
crest 

Her form uprears 
The day that is to come is best, 

Beyond the years. 

in 

Beyond the years the soul shall find 
That endless peace for which it pined, 

For light appears, 
And to the eyes that still were blind 

With blood and tears, 
Their sight shall come all unconfined 

Beyond the years. 



AFTER A VISIT 

I be'n down in ole Kentucky 

Fur a week er two, an' say, 
'Twuz ez hard ez breakin' oxen 

Fur to tear myse'f away. 
Allus argerin' 'bout fren'ship 

An' yer hospitality 
Y' ain't no right to talk about it 

Tell you be'n down there to see. 

See jest how they give you welcome 
To the best that's in the land, 

Feel the sort o' grip they give you 
When they take you by the hand. 

Hear 'em say, " We're glad to have you, 
Better stay a week er two ; " 



An 



n' the way they treat you makes you 
Feel that ev'ry word is true. 

Feed you tell you hear the buttons 

Crackin' on yore Sunday vest ; 
Haul you roun' to see the wonders 

Tell you have to cry for rest. 
Drink yer health an' pet an' praise you 

Tell you git to feel ez great 
Ez the Sheriff o' the county 

Er the Gov'ner o' the State. 

Wife, she sez I must be crazy 

'Cause I go on so, an' Nelse 
He 'lows, " Goodness gracious ! daddy, 

Cain't you talk about nuthin' el"e ? " 
Well, pleg-gone it, I'm jes' tickled, 

Bein' tickled ain't no sin ; 
I be'n down in ole Kentucky, 

An' I want o' go ag'in. 



CURTAIN 

Villain shows his indiscretion, 
Villain's partner makes confession. 
Juvenile, with golden tresses, 
Finds her pa and dons long dresses. 
Scapegrace comes home money-laden, 
Hero comforts tearful maiden, 
Soubrette marries loyal chappie 
Villain skips, and all are happy. 

THE SPELLIN'-BEE 

I never shall furgit that night when father 

hitched up Dobbin, 
An' all us youngsters clambered in an* 

down the road went bobbin' 
To school where we was kep' at work in 

every kind o' weather, 
But where that night a spellin'-bee was 

callin' us together. 
'Twas one o' Heaven's banner nights, the 

stars was all a glitter, 
The moon was shinin' like the hand o' 

God had jest then lit her. 
The ground was white with spotless snow, 

the blast was sort o' stingin' ; 
But underneath our round-abouts, you bet 

our hearts was singin'. 
That spellin'-bee had be'n the talk o' many 

a precious moment, 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



163 



The youngsters all was wild to see jes' 

what the precious show meant, 
An' we whose years was in their teens was 

little less desirous 

0' gittin' to the meetin' so's our sweet 
hearts could admire us. 
So on we went so anxious fur to satisfy our 

mission 
That father had to box our ears, to smother 

our ambition. 

But boxin' ears was too short work to hin 
der our arrivin', 
He jest turned roun' an' smacked us all, 

an' kep' right on a-drivin'. 
Well, soon the schoolhouse hove in sight, 

the winders beamin' brightly ; 
The sound o' talkin' reached our ears, and 

voices laffin' lightly. 
It puffed us up so full an' big 'at I'll jest 

bet a dollar, 
There wa'n't a feller there but felt the 

strain upon his collar. 
So down we jumped an' in we went ez 

sprightly ez you make 'em, 
But somethin' grabbed us by the knees an' 

straight began to shake 'em. 
Fur once within that lighted room, our 

feelin's took a canter, 
An' scurried to the zero mark ez quick ez 

Tarn O'Shanter. 
'Cause there was crowds o' people there, 

both sexes an' all stations ; 
It looked like all the town had come an* 

brought all their relations. 
The first I saw was Nettie Gray, I thought 

that girl was dearer 
'N' gold ; an' when I got a chance, you 

bet I aidged up near her. 
An' Farmer Dobbs's girl was there, the one 

'at Jim was sweet on, 
An' Cyrus Jones an* Mandy Smith an' 

Faith an' Patience Deaton. 
Then Parson Brown an* Lawyer Jones 

were present all attention, 
An' piles on piles of other folks too nu 
merous to mention. 
The master rose an' briefly said : " Good 

friends, dear brother Crawford, 
To spur the pupils' minds along, a little 

prize has offered. 
To him who spells the best to-night or 't 

may be her ' no teilm' 



He offers ez a jest reward, this precious 

work on spellin'." 
A little blue- backed spellin'-book with 

fancy scarlet trimmin', 
We boys devoured it with our eyes so did 

the girls an' women. 
He held it up where all could see, then on 

the table set it, 
An' ev'ry speller in the house felt mortal 

bound to get it. 
At his command we fell in line, prepared 

to do our dooty, 
Outspell the rest an' set 'em down, an' 

carry home the booty. 
'Twas then the merry times began, the 

blunders, an' the laffin', 
The nudges an' the nods an' winks an* 

stale good-natured chaffin'. 
Ole Uncle Hiram Dane was there, the 

clostest man a-livin', 
Whose only bugbear seemed to be the 

dreadful fear o' givin'. 
His beard was long, his hair uncut, his 

clothes all bare an' dingy ; 
It wasn't 'cause the man was pore, but jest 

so mortal stingy. 
An' there he sot by Sally Riggs a-smilin' 

an' a-smirkin', 
An' all his childern lef ' to home a diggin* 

an' a-workin'. 
A widower he was, an* Sal was thinkin' 

'at she'd wing him ; 
I reckon he was wond'rin' what them 

rings o' hern would bring him. 
An' when the spellin '-test commenced, he 

up an' took his station, 
A-spellin' with the best o' them to beat 

the very nation. 
An' when he'd spell some youngster 

down, he'd turn to look at Sally, 
An' say : " The teachin' nowadays can't 

be o' no great vally." 
But true enough the adage says, " Pride 

walks in slipp'ry places," 
Fur soon a thing occurred that put a smile 

on all our faces. 
The laffter jest kep' ripplin' 'roun' an* 

teacher couldn't quell it, 
Fur when he give out " charity " ole 

Hiram couldn't spell it. 
But laffin' 's ketchin' an' it throwed some 

others off their bases, 



164 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



An' folks Vd miss the very word that 

seemed to fit their cases. 
Why, fickle little Jessie Lee come near 

the house upsettin' 
By puttin' in a double " kay " to spell the 

word " coquettin'." 
An' when it come to Cyrus Jones, it 

tickled me all over 
Him settin' up to Mandy Smith an' got 

sot down on " lover." 
But Lawyer Jones of all gone men did 

shorely look the gonest, 
When he found out that he'd furgot to put 

the "h" in " honest." 
An' Parson Brown, whose sermons were 

too long fur toleration, 
Caused lots o' smiles by missin' when they 

give out " condensation." 
So one by one they giv* it up the big 

words kep' a-landin', 
Till me an' Nettie Gray was left, the only 

ones a-standin', 
An' then my inward strife began I guess 

my mind was petty 
I did so want that spellin'-book ; but then 

to spell down Nettie 

Jest sort o' went ag'in my grain I some 
how couldn't do it, 
An' when I git a notion fixed, I'm great 

on stickin' to it. 
So when they giv' the next word out I 

hadn't orter tell it, 
But then 'twas all fur Nettie's sake I 

missed so's she could spell it. 
She spelt the word, then looked at me so 

lovin'-like an' mello', 
I tell you 't sent a hunderd pins a-shootin 

through a fello'. 
O' course I had to stand the jokes an' 

chaffin' of the fello's, 
But when they handed her the book I vow 

I wasn't jealous. 

We sung a hymn, an' Parson Brown dis 
missed us like he orter, 
Fur, la ! he'd learned a thing er two an' 

made his blessin' shorter. 
'Twas late an' cold when we got out, but 

Nettie liked cold weather, 
An' so did I, so we agreed we'd jest walk 

home together. 
We both wuz silent, fur of words we 

nuther had a surplus, 



'Til she spoke out quite sudden like, 

" You missed that word on purpose." 
Well, I declare it frightened me ; at first 

I tried denyin', 
But Nettie, she jest smiled an' smiled, she 

knowed that I was lyin'. 
Sez she : " That book is yourn by right ; " 

sez I : "It never could be 
I I you ah " an' there I stuck, 

an' well she understood me. 
So we agreed that later on when age had 

giv' us tether, 
We'd jine our lots an' settle down to own 

that book together. 



KEEP A-PLUGGIN' AWAY 

I've a humble little motto 

That is homely, though it's true, 

Keep a-pluggin' away. 
It's a thing when I've an object 
That I always try to do, 

Keep a-pluggin' away. 
When you've rising storms to quell, 
When opposing waters swell, 
It will never fail to tell, 

Keep a-pluggin' away. 



If the hills are high before 

And the paths are hard to climb, 

Keep a-pluggin' away. 
And remember that successes 
Come to him who bides his time, 

Keep a pluggin' away. 
From the greatest to the least, 
None are from the rule released. 
Be thou toiler, poet, priest, 

Keep a-pluggin' away. 

Delve away beneath the surface, 
There is treasure farther down, 

Keep a-pluggin' away. 
Let the rain come down in torrents, 
Let the threat'ning heavens frown, 

Keep a-pluggin' away. 
When the clouds have rolled away, 
There will come a brighter day 
All your labor to repay, 

Keep a-pluggin' away. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



165 



There'll be lots of sneers to swallow, 
There'll be lots of pain to bear, 

Keep a-pluggin' away. 
If you've got your eye on heaven, 
Some bright day you'll wake up there, 

Keep a-pluggin' away. 
Perseverance still 5s king ; 
Time its sure reward will bring; 
Work and wait unwearying, 

Keep a-pluggin' away. 



NIGHT OP LOVE 

The moon has left the sky, love, 

The stars are hiding now, 
And frowning on the world, love, 

Night bares her sable brow. 
The snow is on the ground, love, 

And cold and keen the air is. 
I'm singing here to you, love ; 

You're dreaming there in Paris. 

But this is Nature's law, love, 

Though just it may not seem, 
That men should wake to sing, love, 

While maidens sleep and dream. 
Them care may not molest, Jove, 

Nor stir them from their "ambers, 
Though midnight find the swa.in, love, 

Still halting o'er his numbers. 

I watch the rosy dawn, love, 

Come stealing up the east, 
While all things round rejoice, love, 

That Night her reign has ceased. 
The lark will soon be heard, love, 

And on his way be winging ; 
When Nature's poets wake, love, 

Why should a man be singing? 



COLUMBIAN ODE 
I 

Four hundred years ago a tangled waste 

Lay sleeping on the west Atlantic's side ; 
Their devious ways the Old World's mil 
lions traced 
Content, and loved, and labored, dared 
and died, 



While students still believed the charts 

they conned, 

And reveled in their thriftless igno 
rance, 

Nor dreamed of other lands that lay be 
yond 
Old Ocean's dense, indefinite expanse. 

II 

But deep within her heart old Nature 

knew 
That she had once arrayed, at Earth's 

behest, 

Another offspring, fine and fair to view, 
The chosen suckling of the mother's 

breast. 
The child was wrapped in vestments soft 

and fine, 
Each fold a work of Nature's matchless 

art; 

The mother looked on it with love divine, 
And strained the loved one closely to 

her heart. 
And there it lay, and with the warmth 

grew strong 
And hearty, by the salt sea breezes 

fanned, 
Till Time with mellowing touches passed 

along, 

And changed the infant to a mighty 
land. 

Ill 

But men knew naught of this, till there 

arose 

That mighty mariner, the Genoese, 
Who dared to try, in spite of fears and 

foes, 
The unknown fortunes of unsounded 

seas. 
O noblest of Italia's sons, thy bark 

Went not alone into that shrouding 

night ! 

O dauntless darer of the rayless dark, 
The world sailed with thee to eternal 

light ! 
The deer-haunts that with game were 

crowded then 

To-day are tilled and cultivated lands ; 
The schoolhouse tow'rs where Bruin had 
his den. 



166 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



And where the wigwam stood the chapel 

stands ; 
The place that nurtured men of savage 

mien 
Now teems with men of Nature's noblest 

types ; 
Where moved the forest-foliage banner 

green, 

Now flutters in the breeze the stars and 
stripes ! 

A BORDER BALLAD 

Oh, I haven't got long to live, for we all 

Die soon, e'en those who live longest ; 
And the poorest and weakest are taking 
their chance 

Along with the richest and strongest. 
So it's heigho for a glass and a song, 

And a bright eye over the table, 
And a dog for the hunt when the game is 
flush, 

And the pick of a gentleman's stable. 

There is Dimmock o' Dune, he was here 

yesternight, 

But he'sj-ptting to-day on Glen Arragh ; 
'Twas the hand o' MacPherson that gave 

him the blow, 

And the vultures shall feast on his mar 
row. 
But it's heigho for a brave old song 

And a glass while we are able ; 
Here's a health to death and another cup 
To the bright eye over the table. 

I' can show a broad back and a jolly deep 
chest, 

But who argues now on appearance ? 
A blow or a thrust or a stumble at best 

May send me to-day to my clearance. 
Then it's heigho for the things I love, 

My mother'll be soon wearing sable, 
But give me my horse and my dog and my 
glass, 

And a bright eye over the table. 



AN EASY-COIN' FELLER 

Ther' ain't no use in all this strife, 
An* hurryin', pell-mell, right thro' life. 



I don't believe in goin' too fast 

To see what kind o' road you've passed. 

It ain't no mortal kind o' good, 

'N' I wouldn't hurry ef I could. 

I like to jest go joggin' 'long, 

To limber up my soul with song; 

To stop awhile 'n' chat the men, 

'N' drink some cider now an' then. 

Do' want no boss a-standin' by 

To see me work; I allus try 

To do my dooty right straight up, 

An' earn what fills my plate an' cup. 

An' ez fur boss, I'll be my own, 

I like to jest be let alone, 

To plough my strip an' tend my bees, 

An' do jest like I doggoned please. 

My head's all right, an' my heart's meller, 

But I'm a easy-goin' feller. 

THE DILETTANTE: A MODERN 
TYPE 

He scribbles some in prose and verse, 
And now and then he prints it ; 

He paints a little, gathers some 
Of nature's gold and mints it. 

He plays a little, sings a song, 

Acts tragic roles, or funny ; 
He does, because his love is strong, 

But not, oh, not for money ! 

He studies almost everything 

From social art to science ; 
A thirsty mind, a flowing spring, 

Demand and swift compliance. 

He looms above the sordid crowd 
At least through friendly lenses ; 

While his mamma looks pleased and 

proud, 
And kindly pays expenses. 

BY THE STREAM 

By the stream I dream in calm delight, 

and watch as in a glass, 
How the clouds like crowds of snowy-hued 

and white-robed maidens pass, 
And the water into ripples breaks and 

sparkles as it spreads, 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



167 



Like a host of armored knights with silver 

helmets on their heads. 
And I deem the stream an emblem fit of 

human life may go, 
For I find a mind may sparkle much and 

yet but shallows show, 
And a soul may glow with myriad lights 

and wondrous mysteries, 
When it only lies a dormant thing and 

mirrors what it sees. 

NATURE AND ART 

TO MY FRIEND CHARLES BOOTH NET- 
TLETON 



The young queen Nature, ever sweet and 

fair, 

Once on a time fell upon evil days. 
From hearing oft herself discussed with 

praise, 
There grew within her heart the longing 

rare 

To see herself; and every passing air 
The warm desire fanned into lusty blaze. 
Full oft she sought this end by devious 

ways, 

But sought in vain, so fell she in despair. 

For none within her train nor by her side 

Could solve the task or give the envied 

boon. 
So day and night, beneath the sun and 

moon, 

She wandered to and fro unsatisfied, 
Till Art came by, a blithe inventive elf, 
And made a glass wherein she saw her 
self. 



Enrapt, the queen gazed on her glorious 

self, 
Then trembling with the thrill of sudden 

thought, 
Commanded that the skilful wight be 

brought 
That she might dower him with lands and 

pelf. 

Then out upon the silent sea-lapt shelf 
And up the hills and on the downs they 
sought 



Him who so well and wondrously had 

wrought ; 
And with much search found and brought 

home the elf. 

But he put by all gifts with sad replies, 
And from his lips these words flowed forth 

like wine : 
" O queen, I want no gift but thee," 

he said. 
She heard and looked on him with love-lit 

eyes, 
Gave him her hand, low murmuring, " I 

am thine," 

And at the morrow's dawning they were 
wed. 



AFTER WHILE 

A POEM OF FAITH 

I think that though the clouds be dark, 
That though the waves dash o'er the bark, 
Yet after while the light will come, 
And in calm waters safe at home 
The bark will anchor. 
Weep not, my sad-eyed, gray-robed maid, 
Because your fairest blossoms fade, 
That sorrow still o'erruns your cup, 
And even though you root them up, 
The weeds grow ranker. 

For after while your tears shall cease, 
And sorrow shall give way to peace ; 
The flowers shall bloom, the weeds shall 

die, 

And in that faith seen, by and by 
Thy woes shall perish. 
Smile at old Fortune's adverse tide, 
Smile when the scoffers sneer and chide. 
Oh, not for you the gems that pale, 
And not for you the flowers that fail ; 
Let this thought cherish : 



That after while the clouds will 
And then with joy the waiting heart 
Shall feel the light come stealing in, 
That drives away the cloud of sin 

And breaks its power. 
And you shall burst your chrysalis, 
And wing away to realms of bliss, 
Untrammeled, pure, divinely free, 
Above all earth's anxiety 

From that same hour. 



i68 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



A NEGRO LOVE SONG 

This poem illustrates the way in which 
Mr. Dunbar utilized the most humble of 
happenings as material for his verses. 
During the World's Fair he served for a 
short time as hotel waiter. When the 
negroes were not busy they had a custom 
of congregating and talking about their 
sweethearts. Then a man with a tray 
would come along and, as the dining-room 
was frequently crowded, he would say, 
when in need of passing-room : "Jump 
back, honey, jump back." Out of these 
commonplace confidences, he wove the 
musical little composition " A Negro 
Love Song." 

Seen my lady home las' night, 

Jump back, honey, jump back. 
Hel' huh han' an' sque'z it tight, 
Jump back, honey, jump back. 
Hyeahd huh sigh a little sigh, 
Seen a light gleam fom huh eye, 
An' a smile go flittin' by 
Jump back, honey, jump back. 

Hyeahd de win* blow thoo de pine, 
Jump back, honey, jump back. 

Mockin'-bird was singin' fine, 
Jump back, honey, jump back. 

An' my hea't was beatin' so, 

When I reached my lady's do', 

Dat I couldn't ba' to go 
Jump back, honey, jump back. 

Put my ahm aroun' huh wais', 
Jump back, honey, jump back. 

Raised huh lips an' took a tase, 
Jump back, honey, jump back. 

Love me, honey, love me true ? 

Love me well ez I love you ? 

An' she answe'd, '" 'Cose I do " 
Jump back, honey, jump back. 



THE COLORED SOLDIERS 

If the muse were mine to tempt it 
And my feeble voice were strong, 

If my tongue were trained to measures, 
1 would sing a stirring song. 



I would sing a song heroic 

Of those noble sons of Ham, 
Of the gallant colored soldiers 

Who fought for Uncle Sam ! 

In the early days you scorned them, 

And with many a flip and flout 
Said " These battles are the white man's, 

And the whites will fight them out." 
Up the hills you fought and faltered, 

In the vales you strove and bled, 
While your ears still heard the thunder 

Of the foes' advancing tread. 

Then distress fell on the nation, 

And the flag was drooping low; 
Should the dust pollute your banner? 

No! the nation shouted, No! 
So when War, in savage triumph, 

Spread abroad his funeral pall 
Then you called the colored soldiers, 

And they answered to your call. 

And like hounds unleashed and eager 

For the life blood of the prey, 
Sprung they forth and bore them bravely 

In the thickest of the fray. 
And where'er the fight was hottest, 

Where the bullets fastest fell, 
There they pressed unblanched and fear 
less 

At the very mouth of hell. 

Ah, they rallied to the standard 

To uphold it by their might; 
None were stronger in the labors, 

None were braver in the fight. 
From the blazing breach of Wagner 

To the plains of Olustee, 
They were foremost in the fight 

Of the battles of the free. 

And at Pillow ! God have mercy 

On the deeds committed there, 
And the souls of those poor victims 

Sent to Thee without a prayer. 
Let the fulness of Thy pity 

O'er the hot wrought spirits sway 
Of the gallant colored soldiers 

Who fell fighting on that day ! 




SEEN MY LADY HOME LAS' NIGHT 




WHEN DE CO'N PONE'S HOT 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



171 



Yes, the Blacks enjoy their freedom, 

And they won it dearly, too ; 
For the life blood of their thousands 

Did the southern fields bedew. 
In the darkness of their bondage, 

In the depths of slavery's night, 
Their muskets flashed the dawning, 

And they fought their way to light. 

They were comrades then and brothers, 

Are they more or less to-day ? 
They were good to stop a bullet 

And to front the fearful fray. 
They were citizens and soldiers, 

When rebellion raised its head ; 
And the traits that made them worthy, 

Ah ! those virtues are not dead. 

They have shared your nightly vigils, 

They have shared your daily toil ; 
And their blood with yours commingling 

Has enriched the Southern soil. 
They hav * slept and marched and suffered 

'Neath the same dark skies as you, 
They have met as fierce a foeman, 

And have been as brave and true. 

And their deeds shall find a record 

In the registry of Fame ; 
For their blood has cleansed completely 

Every blot of Slavery's shame. 
So all honor and all glory 

To those noble sons of Ham 
The gallant colored soldiers 

Who fought for Uncle Sam ! 

WHEN DE CO'N PONE'S HOT 

Dey is times in life when Nature 

Seems to slip a cog an' go, 
Jes' a-rattlin* down creation, 

Lak an ocean's overflow ; 
When de worP jes' stahts a-spinnin' 

Lak a picaninny's top, 
An' yo' cup o' joy is brimmin' 

'Twell it seems about to slop, 
An' you feel jes' lak a racah, 

Dat is trainin' fu' to trot 
When yo' mammy says de blessin' 

An' de co'n pone's hot. 

When you set down at de table, 
Kin' o' weary lak an' sad, 



An* you'se jes' a little tiahed 

An' purhaps a little mad ; 
How yo' gloom tu'ns into gladness, 

How yo' joy drives out de doubt 
When de oven do' is opened, 

An' de smell comes po'in' out ; 
Why, de 'lectnc light o' Heaven 

Seems to settle on de spot, 
When yo' mammy says de blessin' 

An' de co'n pone's hot. 

When de cabbage pot is steamin* 

An' de bacon good an' fat, 
When de chittlins is a-sputter'n' 

So's to show you whah dey's at ; 
Tek away yo' sody biscuit, 

Tek away yo' cake an' pie, 
Fu' de glory time is comin', 

An' it's 'proachin' mighty nigh, 
An' you want to jump an' hollah, 

Dough you know you'd bettah not, 
When yo' mammy says de blessin', 

An' de co'n pone's hot. 

I have hyeahd o' lots o' sermons, 

An' I've hyeahd o' lots o' prayers, 
An' I've listened to some singin' 

Dat has tuk me up de stairs 
Of de Glory-Lan' an' set me 

Jes' below de Mahstah's th'one, 
An' have lef ' my hea't a-singin' 

In a happy aftah tone ; 
But dem wu'ds so sweetly murmured 

Seem to tech de softes' spot, 
When my mammy says de blessin', 

An* de co'n pone's hot. 

THE OL' TUNES 

You kin talk about yer anthems 

An* yer arias an' sich, 
An' yer modern choir-singin' 

That you think so awful rich ; 
But you orter heerd us youngsters 

In the times now far away, 
A-singin' o' the ol' tunes 

In the ol'-fashioned way. 

There was some of us sung treble 

An' a few of us growled bass, 
An' the tide o' song flowed smoothly 



172 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



With its 'comp'niment o' grace ; 
There was spirit in that music, 

An' a kind o' solemn sway, 
A-singin' o' the ol' tunes 

In the ol'-fashioned way. 

I remember oft o' standin' 

In my homespun pantaloons 
On my face the bronze an' freckles 

O' the suns o' youthful Junes 
Thinkin' that no mortal minstrel 

Ever chanted sich a lay 
As the ol' tunes we was singin' 

In the ol'-fashioned way. 

The boys 'ud always lead us, 

An' the girls 'ud all chime in, 
Till the sweetness o' the singin' 

Robbed the list'nin' soul o' sin ; 
An' I used to tell the parson 

'Twas as good to sing as pray, 
When the people sung the ol' tunes 

In the ol'-fashioned way. 

How I long ag'in to hear 'em 

Pourin' forth from soul to soul, 
With the treble high an' meller, 

An' the bass's mighty roll ; 
But the times is very difPrent, 

An' the music heerd to-day 
Ain't the singin' o' the ol' tunes 

In the ol'-fashioned way. 

Little screechin' by a woman, 

Little squawkin' by a man, 
Then the organ's twiddle-twaddle, 

Jest the empty space to span, 
An' ef you should even think it, 

'Tisn't proper fur to say 
That you want to hear the ol' tunes 

In the ol'-fashioned way. 

But I think that some bright mornin', 

When the toils of life air o'er, 
An* the sun o' heaven arisin' 

Glads with light the happy shore, 
I shall hear the angel chorus, 

In the realms of endless day, 
A-singin' o' the ol' tunes 

In the ol'-fashioned way. 



MELANCHOLIA 

Silently without my window, 
Tapping gently at the pane, 
Falls the rain. 

Through the trees sighs the breeze 
Like a soul in pain. 

Here alone I sit and weep; 

Thought hath banished sleep. 

Wearily I sit and listen 

To the water's ceaseless drip. 
To my lip 

Fate turns up the bitter cup, 
Forcing me to sip ; 

'Tis a bitter, bitter drink, 

Thus I sit and think, 

Thinking things unknown and awful, 
Thoughts on wild, uncanny themes, 
Waking dreams. 

Spectres dark, corpses stark, 
Show the gaping seams 

Whence the cold and cruel knife 

Stole away their life. 

Bloodshot eyes all strained and staring, 

Gazing ghastly into mine ; 

Blood like wine 
On the brow clotted now 

Shows death's dreadful sign. 
Lonely vigil still I keep; 
Would that I might sleep ! 

Still, oh, still, my brain is whirling! 

Still runs on my stream of thought ; 

I am caught 
In the net fate hath set. 

Mind and soul are brought 
To destruction's very brink ; 
Yet I can but think ! 

Eyes that look into the future, 
Peeping forth from out my mind. 
They will find 

Some new weight, soon or late, 
On my soul to bind, 

Crushing all its courage out, 

Heavier than doubt. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



173 



Dawn, the Eastern monarch's daughter, 

Rising from her dewy bed, 

Lays her head 
'Gainst the clouds' sombre shrouds 

Now half fringed with red. 
O'er the land she 'gins to peep ; 
Come, O gentle Sleep ! 

Hark ! the morning cock is crowing ; 

Dreams, like ghosts, must hie away ; 

Tis the day. 
Rosy morn now is born ; 

Dark thoughts may not stay. 
Day my brain from foes will keep ; 
Now, my soul, I sleep. 

THE WOOING 

A youth went faring up and down, 

Alack and well-a-day. 
He fared him to the market town, 

Alack and well-a-day. 
And there he met a maiden fair, 
With hazel eyes and auburn hair; 
His heart went from him then and there, 

Alack and well-a-day. 

She posies sold right merrily, 

Alack and well-a-day ; 
But not a flower was fair as she, 

Alack and well-a-day. 
He bought a rose and sighed a sigh, 
" Ah, dearest maiden, would that I 
Might dare the seller too to buy ! " 

Alack and well-a-day. 

She tossed her head, the coy coquette, 

Alack and well-a-day. 
" I'm not, sir, in the market. yet," 

Alack and well-a-day. 
" Your love must cool upon a shelf; 
Tho' much I sell for gold and pelf, 
I'm yet too young to sell myself," 

Alack and well-a-day. 

The youth was filled with sorrow sore, 

Alack and well-a-day ; 
And looked he at the maid once more, 

Alack and well-a-day. 
Then loud he cried, " Fair maiden, if 
Too young to sell, now as I live, 
You're not too young yourself to give," 

Alack and well-a-day. 



The little maid cast down her eyes, 

Alack and well-a-day, 
And many a flush began to rise, 

Alack and well-a-day. 
" Why, since you are so bold," she said, 
" I doubt not you are highly bred, 
So take me ! " and the twain were wed, 

Alack and well-a-day. 



MERRY AUTUMN 

It's all a farce, these tales they tell 

About the breezes sighing, 
And moans astir o'er field and d ;11, 

Because the year is dying. 

Such principles are most absurd, 
I care not who first taught 'em ; 

There's nothing known to beast or bird 
To make a solemn autumn. 

In solemn times, when grief holds sway 
With countenance distressing, 

You'll note the more of black and gray 
Will then be used in dressing. 

Now purple tints are all around ; 

The sky is blue and mellow ; 
And e'en the grasses turn the ground 

From modest green to yellow. 

The seed burrs all with laughter crack 
On featherweed and jimson ; 

And leaves that should be dressed in 

black 
Are all decked out in crimson. 

A butterfly goes winging by ; 

A singing bird comes after ; 
And Nature, all from earth to sky, 

Is bubbling o'er with laughter. 

The ripples wimple on the rills, 

Like sparkling little lasses ; 
The sunlight runs along the hills, 

And laughs among the grasses. 

The earth is just so full of fun 

It really can't contain it ; 
And streams of mirth so freely run 

The heavens seem to rain it. 



174 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Don't talk to me of solemn days 
In autumn's time of splendor, 

Because the sun shows fewer rays, 
And these grow slant and slender. 

Why, it's the climax of the year, 
The highest time of living ! 

Till naturally its bursting cheer 
Just melts into thanksgiving. 

BALLAD 

I know my love is true, 

And oh the day is fair. 
The sky is clear and blue, 
The flowers are rich of hue, 

The air I breathe is rare, 

I have no grief or care ; 
For my own love is true, 

And oh the day is fair. 

My love is false I find, 

And oh the day is dark. 
Blows sadly down the wind, 
"While sorrow holds my mind ; 

I do not hear the lark, 

For quenched is life's dear spark, 
My love is false I find, 

And oh the day is dark ! 

For love doth make the day 
Or dark or doubly bright ; 

Her beams along the way 

Dispel the gloom and gray. 
She lives and all is bright, 
She dies and life is night. 

For love doth make the day, 
Or dark or doubly bright. 

THE CHANGE HAS COME 

The change has come, and Helen sleeps 
Not sleeps ; but wakes to greater deeps 
Of wisdom, glory, truth, and light, 
Than ever blessed her seeking sight, 
In this low, long, lethargic night, 
Worn out with strife 
Which men call life. 

The change has come, and who would say 
" I would it were not come to-day " ? 



What were the respite till to-morrow ? 
Postponement of a certain sorrow, 
From which each passing day would 
borrow ! 

Let grief be dumb, 

The change has come. 



COMPARISON 

The sky of brightest gray seems dark 
To one whose sky was ever white. 

To one who never knew a spark, 
Thro' all his life, of love or light, 
The grayest cloud seems over- bright. 

The robin sounds a beggar's note 

Where one the nightingale has heard, 

But he for whom no silver throat 
Its liquid music ever stirred, 
Deems robin still the sweetest bird. 



DISCOVERED 

Seen you down at chu'ch las' night, 

Nevah min', Miss Lucy. 
What I mean ? oh, dat's all right, 

Nevah min', Miss Lucy. 
You was sma't ez sma't could be, 
But you couldn't hide f 'om me. 
Ain't I got two eyes to see ! 

Nevah min', Miss Lucy. 

Guess you thought you's awful keen ; 

Nevah min', Miss Lucy. 
Evahthing you done, I seen ; 

Nevah min', Miss Lucy. 
Seen him tek yo' ahm jes' so, 
When he got outside de do' 
Oh, I know dat man's yo' beau ! 

Nevah min', Miss Lucy. 

Say now, honey, wha'd he say ? 

Nevah min', Miss Lucy ! 
Keep yo' secrets dat's yo' way 

Nevah min', Miss Lucy. 
Won't tell me an' I'm yo' pal 
I'm gwine tell his othah gal, 
Know huh, too, huh name is Sal ; 

Nevah min', Miss Lucy ! 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



175 



DISAPPOINTED 

An old man planted and dug and tended, 
Toiling in joy from dew to dew ; 

The sun was kind, and the rain befriended ; 
Fine grew his orchard and fair to view. 

Then he said : " I will quiet my thrifty 
fears, 

For here is fruit for my failing years." 

But even then the storm-ckr Is gathered, 

Swallowing up the azure ,Ky; 
The sweeping winds into white foam 

lathered 

The placid breast of the bay, hard by ; 
Then the spirits that raged in the dark 
ened air 
Swept o'er his orchard and left it bare. 

The old man stood in the rain, uncaring, 

Viewing the place the storm had swept; 
And then with a cry from his soul despair 
ing, 
He bowed him down to the earth and 

wept. 
But a voice cried aloud from the driving 

rain; 
" Arise, old man, and plant again ! " 

INVITATION TO LOVE 

Come when the nights are bright with 
stars 

Or when the moon is mellow ; 
Come when the sun his golden bars 

Drops on the hay-field yellow. 
Come in the twilight soft and gray, 
Come in the night or come in the day, 
Come, O Love, whene'er you may, 

And you are welcome, welcome. 

You are sweet, O Love, dear Love, 
You are soft as the nesting dove. 
Come to my heart and bring it rest 
As the bird flies home to its welcome nest. 

Come when my heart is full of grief 

Or when my heart is merry ; 
Come with the falling of the leaf 

Or with the redd'ning cherry. 
Come when the year's first blossom blows, 
Come when the summer gleams and glows, 



Come with the winter's drifting snows, 
And you are welcome, welcome. 

HE HAD HIS DREAM 

He had his dream, and all through life, 
Worked up to it through toil and strife. 
Afloat fore'er before his eyes, 
It colored lor him all his skies : 

The storm-cloud dark 

Above his bark, 

The calm and listless vault of blue 
Took on its hopeful hue, 
It tinctured every passing beam 

He had his dream. 

He labored hard and failed at last, 
His sails too weak to bear the blast, 
The raging tempests tore away 
And sent his beating bark astray. 

But what cared he 

For wind or sea ! 

He said, " The tempest will be short, 
My bark will come to port." 
He saw through every cloud a gleam 

He had his dream. 

GOOD-NIGHT 

The lark is silent in his nest, 

The breeze is sighing in its flight, 

Sleep, Love, and peaceful be thy rest. 
Good-night, my love, good-night, good 
night. 

Sweet dreams attend thee in thy sleep, 
To soothe thy rest till morning's light, 

And angels round thee vigil keep. 

Good-night, my love, good-night, good 
night. 

Sleep well, my love, on night's dark breast, 
And ease thy soul with slumber bright , 

Be joy but thine and I am blest. 

Good-night, my love, good-night, good 
night. 

A COQUETTE CONQUERED 

Yes, my ha't's ez ha'd ez stone 
Go 'way, Sam, an' lemme 'lone. 



176 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



No ; I ain't gwine change my min' 
Ain't gwine ma'y you nuffin* de kin'. 

Phiny loves you true an' deah ? 
Go ma'y Phiny ; whut I keer ? 
Oh, you needn't mou'n an' cry 
I don't keer how soon you die. 

Got a present ! Whut you got ? 
SomePn fu' de pan er pot ! 
Huh ! yo' sass do sholy beat - 
Think I don't git 'nough to eat ? 

Whut's dat un'neaf yo' coat ? 
Looks des lak a little shoat. 
'Tain't no possum ! Bless de Lamb ! 
Yes, it is, you rascal, Sam ! 

Gin it. to me ; whut you say ? 
Ain't you sma't now ! Oh, go 'way ! 
Possum do look mighty nice, 
But you ax too big a price. 

Tell me, is you talkin' true, 

Dat's de gal's whut ma'ies you ? 

Come back, Sam ; now whah's you gwine ? 

Co'se you knows dat possum's mine ! 



NORA: A SERENADE 

Ah, Nora, my Nora, the light fades away, 
While Night like a spirit steals up o'er 

the hills ; 
The thrush from his tree where he chanted 

all day, 

No longer his music in ecstasy trills. 
Then, Nora, be near me ; thy presence 

doth cheer me, 
Thine eye hath a gleam that is truer 

than gold. 
I cannot but love thee ; so do not reprove 

me, 

If the strength of my passion should 
make me too bold. 

Nora, pride of my heart, 

Rosy cheeks, cherry lips, sparkling with 

glee, 
Wake from thy slumbers, wherever thou 

art; 
Wake from thy slumbers to me. 



Ah, Nora, my Nora, there's love in the 

air, 
It stirs in the numbers that thrill in my 

brain ; 
Oh, sweet, sweet is love with its mingling 

of care, 
Though joy travels only a step before 

pain. 
Be roused ftom thy slumbers and list to 

my nv -nbers ; 
My heart i. poured out in this song unto 

thee. 
Oh, be thou not cruel, thou treasure, thou 

jewel ; 

Turn thine ear to my pleading and 
hearken to me. 



OCTOBER 

October is the treasurer of the year, 

And all the months pay bounty to her 

store ; 
The fields and orchards still their tribute 

bear, 
And fill her brimming coffers more and 

more. 

But she, with youthful lavishness, 
Spends all her wealth in gaudy dress, 
And decks herself in garments bold 
Of scarlet, purple, red, and gold. 

She heedeth not how swift the hours fly, 
But smiles and sings her happy life 
along ; 

She only sees above a shining sky ; 

She only hears the breezes' voice in 
song. 

Her garments trail the woodlands through, 

And gather pearls of early dew 
That sparkle, till the roguish Sun 
Creeps up and steals them every one. 

But what cares she that jewels should be 

lost, 
When all of Nature's bounteous wealth 

is hers ? 
Though princely fortunes may have been 

their cost, 

Not one regret her calm demeanor stirs. 
Whole-hearted, happy, careless, free, 
She lives her life out joyously, 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



177 



Nor cares when Frost stalks o'er her way 
And turns her auburn locks to gray. 

A SUMMER'S NIGHT. 

The night is dewy as a maiden's mouth, 
The skies are bright as are a maiden's 

eyes, 
Soft as a maiden's breath the wind that 

flies 
Up from the perfumed bosom of the South. 

Like sentinels, the pines stand in the park ; 
And hither hastening, like rakes that 

roam, 

With lamps to light their wayward foot 
steps home, 

The fireflies come stagg'ring down the 
dark. 

SHIPS THAT PASS IN THE NIGHT 

Out in the sky the great dark clouds are 

massing ; 

I look far out into the pregnant night, 
Where I can hear a solemn booming gun 
And catch the gleaming of a random 

light, 

That tells me that the ship I seek is pass 
ing, passing. 

My tearful eyes my soul's deep hurt are 

glassing ; 
For I would hail and check that ship of 

ships. 

I stretch my hands imploring, cry aloud, 
My voice falls dead a foot from mine 

own lips, 

And but its ghost doth reach that vessel, 
passing, passing. 

O Earth, O Sky, O Ocean, both surpassing, 
O heart of mine, O soul that dreads the 

dark! 

Is there no hope for me ? Is there no way 
That I may sight and check that speed 
ing bark 

Which out of sight and sound is passing, 
passing ? 

THE DELINQUENT 

Goo'-by, Jinks, I got to hump, 
Got to mek dis pony jump ; 



See dat sun a-goin' down 
'N' me a-foolin' hyeah in town ! 
Git up, Suke go long ! 

Guess Mirandy'll think Fs tight, 
Me not home an' comin' on night. 
What's dat stan'in' by de fence ? 
Pshaw ! why don't I lu'n some sense? 
Git up, Suke go long ! 

Guess I spent down dah at Jinks' 
Mos' a dollah fur de drinks. 
Bless yo'r soul, you see dat star ? 
Lawd, but won't Mirandy rar ? 
Git up, Suke go long ! 

Went dis mo'nin', hyeah it's night, 
Dah's de cabin dah in sight. 
Who's dat stan'in' in de do' ? 
Dat must be Mirandy, sho', 
Git up, Suke go long ! 

Got de close-stick in huh han', 
Dat look funny, goodness Ian', 
Sakes alibe, but she look glum ! 
Hyeah, Mirandy, hyeah I come ! 

Git up, Suke go long ! 
Ef 't hadn't a be'n fur you, you slow ole 
fool, I'd a' be'n home long fo' now ! 

DAWN 

An angel, robed in spotless white, 
Bent down and kissed the sleeping Night. 
Night woke to blush ; the sprite was gone. 
Men saw the blush and called it Dawn. 

A DROWSY DAY 

This poem, written before its author 
was twenty years of age, was greatly ad 
mired and brought him many encourag 
ing letters. Among these was a note 
from James Whitcomb Riley, mentioned 
otherwhere in this volume, in which Mr. 
Riley says : 

"Certainly your gift as evidenced by 
this Drowsy Day ' poem alone is a superior 
one, and therefore its fortunate possessor 
should bear it with a becoming sense of 
gratitude and meekness, always feeling 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



that for any resultant good God is the 
glory, the singer his very humble instru 
ment. Already you have many friends, 
and can have thousands more by being 
simply honest, unaffected and just to your 
self and the high source of your endow 
ment." 

The air is dark, the sky is gray, 
The misty shadows come and go, 

And here within my dusky room 

Each chair looks ghostly in the gloom. 
Outside the rain falls cold and slow 

Half-stinging drops, half-blinding spray. 

Each slightest sound is magnified, 
For drowsy quiet holds her reign ; 

The burnt stick in the fireplace breaks, 

The nodding cat with start awakes, 
And then to sleep drops off again, 

Unheeding Towser at her side. 

I look far out across the lawn, 

Where huddled stand the silly sheep ; 

My work lies idle at my hands, 

My thoughts fly out like scattered strands 
Of thread, and on the verge of sleep 

Still half awake I dream and yawn. 

What spirits rise before my eyes ! 

How various of kind and form ! 
Sweet memories of days long past, 
The dreams of youth that could not last, 

Each smiling calm, each raging storm, 
That swept across my early skies. 

Half seen, the bare, gaunt-fingered boughs 
Before my window sweep and sway, 

And chafe in tortures of unrest. 

My chin sinks down upon my breast ; 
I cannot work on such a day, 

Bat only sit and dream and drowse. 

DIRGE 

Place this bunch of mignonette 

In her cold, dead hand ; 
When the golden sun is set, 

Where the poplars stand, 
Bury her from sun and day, 
Lay my little love away 
From my sight. 



She was like a modest flower 

Blown in sunny June, 
Warm as sun at noon's high hour, 

Chaster than the moon. 
Ah, her day was brief and bright, 
Earth has lost a star of light ; 
She is dead. 

Softly breathe her name to me. 

Ah, I loved her so. 
Gentle let your tribute be ; 

None may better know 
Her true worth than I who weep 
O'er her as she lies asleep 
Soft asleep. 

Lay these lilies on her breast, 
They are not more white 

Than the soul of her, at rest 
'Neath their petals bright. 

Chant your aves soft and low, 

Solemn be your tread and slow, 
She is dead. 

Lay her here beneath the grass, 
Cool and green and sweet, 

Where the gentle brook may pass 
Crooning at her feet. 

Nature's bards shall come and sing, 

And the fairest flowers shall spring 
Where she lies. 

Safe above the water's swirl, 
She has crossed the bar ; 

Earth has lost a precious pearl, 
Heaven has gained a star, 

That shall ever sing and shine, 

Till it quells this grief of mine 
For my love. 

HYMN 

When storms arise 
And dark'ning skies 

About me threat'ning lower, 
To thee, O Lord, I raise mine eyes, 
To thee my tortured spirit flies 

For solace in that hour. 

Thy mighty arm 
Will let no harm 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



179 



Come near me nor befall me ; 
Thy voice shall quiet my alarm, 
When life's great battle waxethwarm 

No foeman shall appall me. 

Upon thy breast 
Secure I rest, 

From sorrow and vexation ; 
No more by sinful cares oppressed, 
But in thy presence ever blest, 

O God of my salvation. 



PREPARATION 

The little bird sits in the nest and sings 
A shy, soft song to the morning light ; 
And it flutters a little and prunes its 

wings. 

The song is halting and poor and brief, 
And the fluttering wings scarce stir a 

leaf; 

But the note is a prelude to sweeter things, 
And the busy bill and the flutter slight 
Are proving the wings for a bolder 
flight ! 

THE SECRET 

What says the wind to the waving trees ? 

What says the wave to the river ? 
What means the sigh in the passing breeze ? 

Why do the rushes quiver ? 
Have you not heard the fainting cry 
Of the flowers that said " Good-bye, good 
bye"? 

List how the gray dove moans and grieves 

Under the woodland cover ; 
List to the drift of the falling leaves, 

List to the wail of the lover. 
Have you not caught the message heard 
Already by wave and breeze and bird ? 

Come, come away to the river's bank, 

Come in the early morning ; 
Come when the grass with dew is clank, 

There you will find the warning 
A hint in the kiss of the quickening air 
Of the secret that birds and breezes bear. 
11 



THE WIND AND THE SEA 

I stood by the shore at the death of day, 

As the sun sank flaming red ; 
And the face of the waters that spread 
away 

Was as gray as the face of the dead. 

And I heard the cry of the wanton sea 
And the moan of the wailing wind ; 

For love's sweet pain in his heart had he, 
But the gray old sea had sinned. 

The wind was young and the sea was old 
But their cries went up together ; 

The wind was warm and the sea was cold, 
For age makes wintry weather. 

So they cried aloud and they wept amain 
Till the sky grew dark to hear it ; 

And out of its folds crept the misty rain, 
In its shroud, like a troubled spirit. 

For the wind was wild with a hopeless 
love, 

And the sea was sad at heart 
At many a crime that he wot of, 

Wherein he had played his part. 

He thought of the gallant ships gone down 
By the will of his wicked waves ; 

And he thought how the churchyard in the 

town 
Held the sea-made widows' graves. 

The wild wind thought of the love he had 
left 

Afar in an Eastern land, 
And he longed, as long the much bereft, 

For the touch of her perfumed hand. 

In his winding wail and his deep-heaved 

sigh 

His aching grief found vent ; 
While the sea looked up at the bending 

sky 
And murmured : " I repent." 

But e'en as he spoke, a ship came by, 
That bravely ploughed the main, 

And a light came into the sea's green eye, 
And his heart grew hard again. 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Then he spoke to the wind : " Friend, 
seest thou not 

Yon vessel is eastward bound ? 
Pray speed with it to the happy spot 

Where thy loved one may be found." 

And the wind rose up in a dear delight, 
And after the good ship sped ; 

But the crafty sea by his wicked might 
Kept the vessel ever ahead. 

Till the wind grew fierce in his despair, 
And white on the brow and lip. 

He tore his garments and tore his hair, 
And fell on the flying ship. 

And the ship went down, for a rock was 
there, 

And the sailless sea loomed black ; 
While burdened again with dole and care, 

The wind came moaning back. 

And still he moans from his bosom hot 
Where his raging grief lies pent, 

And ever when the ships come not, 
The sea says: " I repent." 

THE DESERTED PLANTATION 

Oh, de grubbin'-hoe's a-rustin' in de 

co'nah, 
An' de plow's a-tumblin' down in de 

fiel', 
While de whippo'will's a-wailin* lak a 

mou'nah 

When his stubbo'n hea't is tryin'ha'd to 
yiel'. 

In de furrers whah de co'n was allus 

wavin', 
Now de weeds is growin' green an' rank 

an' tall ; 
An' de swallers roun' de whole place is 

a-bravin' 

Lak dey thought deir folks had allus 
owned it all. 

An* de big house Stan's all quiet lak an s 

solemn, 

Not a blessed soul in pa'lor, po'ch, er 
lawn; 



Not a guest, ner not a ca'iage lef to haul 

'em, 

Fu' de ones dat tu'ned de latch-string 
out air gone. 



An' de banjo's voice is silent in de qua'ters, 
D'ain't a hymn ner co'n-song ringin' in 

de air ; 

But de murmur of a branch's passin' waters 
Is de only soun' dat breks de stillness 
dere. 



Whah's de da'kies, dem dat used to be 

a dancin* 

Evry night befo' de ole cabin do' ? 
Whah's de chillun, dem dat used to be 

a-prancin* 
Er a-rollm' in de san' er on de flo' ? 



Whah's ole Uncle Mordecai an' Uncle 

Aaron ? 
Whah's Aunt Doshy, Sam, an' Kit, an' 

all de res' ? 
Whah's ole Tom de da'ky fiddlah, how's 

he far in' ? 

Whah's de gals dat used to sing an' 
dance de bes' ? 

Gone ! not one o' dem is lef to tell de 

story ; 
Dey have lef de deah ole place to fall 

away. 

Couldn't one o' dem dat seed it in its glory 
Stay to watch it in de hour of decay ? 

Dey have lef de ole plantation to de 

swallers, 

But it hoi's in me a lover till de las' ; 
Fu' I fin' hyeah in de memory dat follers 
All dat loved me an' dat I loved in de 
pas'. 

So I'll stay an' watch de deah ole place 

an' tend it 

Ez I used to in de happy days gone by. 
'Twell de othah Mastah thinks it's time to 

end it, 
An* calls me to my qua'ters in de sky. 




DE PLOW'S A-TUMBLIN' DOWN IN DE FIEL' 






O'ER THE FIELDS WITH HEAVY TREAD 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



183 



A CORN-SONG 

On the wide veranda white, 
In the purple failing light, 
Sits the master while the sun is slowly 

burning ; 

And his dreamy thoughts are drowned 
In the softly flowing sound 
Of the corn-songs of the field-hands slow 
returning. 

Oh, we hoe de co'n 
Since de ehly mo'n ; 
Now de sinkin' sun 
Says de day is done. 

O'er the fields with heavy tread, 
Light of heart and high of head, 
Though the halting steps be labored, slow, 

and weary ; 

Still the spirits brave and strong 
Find a comforter in song, 
And their corn song rises ever loud and 
cheery. 

Oh, we hoe de co'n 
Since de ehly mo'n ; 
Now de sinkin' sun 
Says de day is done. 

To the master in his seat, 
Comes the burden, full and sweet, 
Of the mellow minor music growing 

clearer, 

As the toilers raise the hymn, 
Thro' the silence dusk and dim, 
To the cabin's restful shelter drawing 
nearer. 

Oh, we hoe de co'n 
Since de ehly mo'n ; 
Now de sinkin' sun 
Says de day is done. 



And a tear is in the eye 

Of the master sitting by, 
A.S he listens to the echoes low-replying 

To the music's fading calls 

As it faints away and falls 
Into silence, deep within the cabin dying. 



Oh, we hoe de co'n 
Since de ehly mo'n ; 
Now de sinkin' sun 
Says de day is done. 

RIDING TO TOWN 

When labor is light and the morning is 

fair, 

I find it a pleasure beyond all compare 
To hitch up my nag and go hurrying down 
And take Katie May for a ride into town ; 
For bumpety-bump goes the wagon, 

But tra-la-la-la our lay. 
There's joy in a song as we rattle along 
In the light of the glorious day. 

A coach would be fine, but a spring 

wagon's good ; 
My jeans are a match for Kate's gingham 

and hood ; 
The hills take us up and the vales take us 

down, 
But what matters that ? we are riding to 

town, 
And bumpety-bump goes the wagon, 

But tra-la-la-la sing we. 
There's never a care may live in the air 
That is filled with the breath of our 
glee. 

And after we've started, there's naught 

can repress 

The thrill of our hearts in their wild hap 
piness ; 
The heavens may smile or the heavens 

may frown, 
And it's all one to us when we're riding to 

town. 
For bumpety-bump goes the wagon, 

But tra-la-la-la we shout, 
For our hearts they are clear and there's 

nothing to fear, 
And we've never a pain nor a doubt. 

The wagon is weak and the roadway is 

rough, 

And tho' it is long it is not long enough, 
For mid all my ecstasies this is the crown 
To sit beside Katie and ride into town, 
When bumpety-bump goes the wagon, 
But tra-la-la-la our song ; 



184 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



And if I had my way, I'd be willing to 

pay 
If the road could be made twice as long. 

WE WEAR THE MASK 

We wear the mask that grins and lies, 
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes, 
This debt we pay to human guile ; 
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile, 
And mouth with myriad subtleties. 

Why should the world be over-wise, 
In counting all our tears and sighs ? 
Nay, let them only see us, while 
We wear the mask. 

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries 
To thee from tortured souls arise. 
We sing, but oh the clay is vile 
Beneath our feet, and long the mile ; 
But let the world dream otherwise, 
We wear the mask ! 



THE MEADOW LARK 

Though the winds be dank, 
And the sky be sober, 
And the grieving Day 
In a mantle gray 

Hath let her waiting maiden robe her, 
All the fields along 
I can hear the song 
Of the meadow lark, 

As she flits and flutters, 

And laughs at the thunder when it 

mutters. 

O happy bird, of heart most gay 
To sing when skies are gray ! 

When the clouds are full, 
And the tempest master 
Lets the loud winds sweep 
From his bosom deep 
Like heralds of some dire disaster, 
Then the heart alone 
To itself makes moan ; 
A.nd the songs come slow, 

While the tears fall fleeter, 
And silence than song by far seems 
sweeter. 



Oh, few are they along the way 
Who sing when skies are gray ! 



ONE LIFE 

Oh, I am hurt to death, my Love ; 

The shafts of Fate have pierced my 

striving heart, 
And I am sick and weary of 

The endless pain and smart. 
My soul is weary of the strife, 
And chafes. at life, and chafes at life. 

Time mocks me with fair promises ; 

A blooming future grows a barren past, 
Like rain my fair full-blossomed Irees 

Unburdened in the blast. 
The harvest fails on grain and tree, 
Nor comes to me, nor comes to me. 

The stream that bears my hopes abreast 
Turns ever from my way its pregnant 
tide. 

My laden boat, torn from its rest, 
Drifts to the other side. 

So all my hopes are set astray, 

And drift away, and drift away. 

The lark sings to me at the morn, 

And near me wings her skyward-soaring 
flight ; 

But pleasure dies as soon as born, 
The owl takes up the night, 

And night seems long and doubly dark; 

I miss the lark, I miss the lark. 

Let others labor as they may, 

I'll sing and sigh alone,' and write my 

line. 
Their fate is theirs, or grave or gay, 

And mine shall still be mine. 
I know the world holds joy and glee, 
But not for me, 'tis not for me. 



CHANGING TIME 

The cloud looked in at the window. 
And said to the day, " Be dark ! " 

And the roguish rain tapped hard on the 

pane, 
To stifle the song of the lark. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



185. 



The wind sprang up in the tree tops 
And shrieked with a voice of death, 

But the rough-voiced breeze, that shook 

the trees, 
Was touched with a violet's breath. 

DEAD 

A knock is at her door, but she is weak ; 
Strange dews have washed the paint 

streaks from her cheek ; 
She does not rise, but, ah, this friend is 

known, 

And knows that he will find her all alone. 
So opens he the door, and with soft tread 
Goes straightway to the richly curtained 

bed. 

His soft hand on her dewy head he lays. 
A strange white light she gives him for his 

gaze. 

Then, looking on the glory of her charms, 
He crushes her resistless in his arms. 

Stand back ! look not upon this bold em 
brace, 

Nor view the calmness of the wanton's 
face; 

With joy unspeakable and 'bated breath, 

She keeps her last, long liaison with death ! 

A CONFIDENCE 

Uncle John, he makes me tired ; 
Thinks 'at he's jest so all-fired 
Smart, 'at he kin pick up, so, 
Ever'thing he wants to know. 
Tried to ketch me up last night. 
But you bet I wouldn't bite. 
I jest kept the smoothes' face, 
But I led him sich a chase, 
Couldn't corner me, you bet 
I skipped all the traps he set. 
Makin' out he wan'ed to know 
Who was this an' that girl's beau; 
So's he'd find out, don't you see, 
Who was goin' 'long with me. 
But I answers jest ez sly, 
An' I never winks my eye, 
Tell he hollers with a whirl, 
* Look here, ain't you got a girl ? " 
Y' ought 'o seen me spread my eyes, 
Like he'd took me by surprise, 



An' I said, Oh, Uncle John, 

Never thought o'havin' one." 

An' somehow that seemed to tickle 

Him an' he shelled out a nickel. 

Then you ought to seen me leave 

Jest a-laffin' in my sleeve. 

Fool him well, I guess I did ; 

He ain't on to this here kid. 

Got a girl ! well, I guess yes, 

Got a dozen more or less, 

But I got one reely one, 

Not no foolin' ner no fun ; 

Fur I'm sweet on her, you see, 

An' I ruther guess 'at she 

Must be kinder sweet on me, 

So we're keepin' company. 

Honest Injun ! this is true, 

Ever' word I'm tellin' you ! 

But you won't be sich a scab 

Ez to run aroun' an' blab. 

Mebbe 'tain't the way with you, 

But you know some fellers do. 

Spoils a girl to let her know 

'At you talk about her so. 

Don't you know her ? her name's Liz, 

Nicest girl in town she is. 

Purty ? ah, git out, you gilly 

Liz 'ud purt' nigh knock you silly. 

Y' ought 'o see her when she's dressed 

All up in her Sunday best, 

All the fellers nudgin' me, 

An' a-whisperin', gemunee ! 

Betcher life 'at I feel proud 

When she passes by the crowd. 

'T's kinder nice to be a-goin' 

With a girl 'at makes some showin' 

One you know 'at hain't no snide, 

Makes you feel so satisfied. 

An' I'll tell you she's a trump, 

Never even seen her jump 

Like some silly girls 'ud do, 

When I'd hide and holler " Boo ! " 

She'd jest laugh an' say " Git out ! 

What you hollerin' about ? " 

When some girls 'ud have a fit 

That 'un don't git skeered a bit, 

Never makes a bit o' row 

When she sees a worm er cow. 

Them kind's few an' far between; 

Bravest girl I ever seen. 

Tell you 'nuther thing she'll do, 

Mebbe you won't think it's true, 



186 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



But if she's jest got a dime 
She'll go halvers ever' time. 
Ah, you goose, you needn't laff ; 
That's the kinder girl to have. 
If you knowed her like I do, 
Guess you'd kinder like her too. 
Tell you somep'n' if you'll swear 
You won't tell it anywhere. 
Oh, you got to cross yer heart 
Earnest, truly, 'fore I start. 
Well, one day I kissed her cheek ; 
Gee, but I felt cheap an' weak, 
'Cause at first ske kinder flared, 
'N', gracious goodness ! I was scared. 
But I needn't been, fer la ! 
Why, she never told her ma. 
That's what I call grit, don't you ? 
Sich a girl's worth stickin' to. 



PHYLLIS 

Phyllis, ah, Phyllis, my life is a gray day, 
Few are my years, but my griefs are not 

few, 

Ever to youth should each day be a May 
day, 

Warm wind and rose-breath and dia 
monded dew 
Phyllis, ah, Phyllis, my life is a gray day. 

Oh, for the sunlight that shines on a May 
day ! 

Only the cloud hangeth over my life. 
Love that should bring me youth's hap 
piest heyday 
Brings me but seasons of sorrow and 

strife ; 
Phyllis, ah, Phyllis, my life is a gray day. 

Sunshine or shadow, or gold day or gray 

day, 

Life must be lived as our destinies rule ; 

Leisure or labor or work day or play day 

Feasts for the famous and fun for the 

fool; 
Phyllis, ah, Phyllis, my life is a gray day. 

RIGHT'S SECURITY 

What if the wind do howl without, 
And turn the creaking weather-vane ; 



What if the arrows of the rain 
Do beat against the window-pane ? 
Art thou not armored strong and fast 
Against the sallies of the blast ? 
Art thou not sheltered safe and well 
Against the flood's insistent swell ? 

What boots it, that thou stand'st alone, 
And laughest in the battle's face 
When all the weak have fled the place 
And let their feet and fears keep pace ? 
Thou wavest still thine ensign, high, 
And shoutest thy loud battle-cry ; 
Higher than e'er the tempest roared, 
It cleaves the silence like a sword. 

Right arms and armors, too, that man 

Who will not compromise with wrong ; 

Though single, he must front the throng. 

And wage the battle hard and long. 

Minorities, since time began, 

Have shown the better side of man ; 

And often in the lists of Time 

One man has made a cause sublime ! 



IF 

If life were but a dream, my Love, 

And death the waking time ; 
If day had not a beam, my Love, 
And night had not a rhyme, 

A barren, barren world were this 
Without one saving gleam ; 
I'd only ask that with a kiss 
You'd wake me from the dream. 

If dreaming were the sum of days, 

And loving were the bane ; 
If battling for a wreath of bays 
Could soothe a heart inpain, 

I'd scorn the meed of battle's might, 
All other aims above 
I'd choose the human's higher right, 
To suffer and to love ! 



THE SONG 

My soul, lost in the music's mist, 
Roamed, rapt, 'neath skies of amethyst. 
The cheerless streets grew summer meads, 
The Son of Phoebus spurred his steeds, 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



187 



And, wand'ring down the mazy tune, 
December lost its way in June, 
While from a verdant vale I heard 
The piping of a love-lorn bird. 

A something in the tender strain 
Revived an old, long conquered pain, 
And as in depths of many seas, 
My heart was drowned in memories. 
The tears came welling to my eyes, 
Nor could I ask it otherwise ; 
For, oh ! a sweetness seems to last 
Amid the dregs of sorrows past. 

It stirred a chord that here of late 
I'd grown to think could not vibrate. 
It brought me back the trust of youth, 
The world again was joy and truth. 
And Avice, blooming like a bride, 
Once more stood trusting at my side. 
But still, with bosom desolate, 
The 'lorn bird sang to find his mate. 

Then there are trees, and lights and stars, 
The silv'ry tinkle of guitars; 
And throbs again as throbbed that waltz, 
Before I knew that hearts were false. 
Then like a cold wave on a shore, 
Comes silence and she sings no more. 
I wake, I breathe, I think again, 
And walk the sordid ways of men. 

SIGNS OF THE TIMES 

Air a-gittin' cool an' coolah, 

Frost a-comin' in de night, 
Hicka'nuts an' wa'nuts fallin', 

Possum keepin' out o' sight. 
Tu'key struttin' in de ba'nya'd, 

Nary step so proud ez his ; 
Keep on struttin', Mistah Tu'key, 

Yo* do' know whut time it is. 

Cidah press commence a-squeakin* 

Eatin' apples sto'ed away, 
Chillun swa'min' 'roun' lak ho'nets, 

Huntin' aigs ermung de hay. 
Mistah Tu'key keep on gobblin* 

At de geese a-flyin' souf, 
Oomph ! dat bird do* know whut's 
comin' ; 

Ef he did he'd shet his mouf. 



Pumpkin gittin' good an' yallah 

Mek me open up my eyes ; 
Seems lak it's a-lookin' at me 

Jes' a-la'in' dah sayin' " Pies." 
Tu'key gobbler gwine 'roun' blowin', 

Gwine 'roun' gibbin' sass an' slack; 
Keep on talkin', Mistah Tu'key, 

You ain't seed no almanac. 



Fa'mer walkin' th'oo de ba'nya'd 

Seein' how things is comin' on, 
Sees ef all de fowls is fatt'nin' 

Good times comin' sho's you bo'n. 
Hyeahs dat tu'key gobbler braggin', 

Den his face break in a smile 
Nebbah min', you sassy rascal, 

He's gwine nab you atter while. 

Choppin' suet in de kitchen, 

Stonin' raisins in de hall, 
Beef a-cookin' fu* de mince meat, 

Spices groun' I smell 'em all. 
Look hyeah, Tu'key, stop dat gobblin', 

You ain' luned de sense ob feah, 
You ol' fool, yo' naik's in dangah, 

Do' you know Thanksgibbin's hyeah ? 



WHY FADES A DREAM? 

Why fades a dream ? 

An iridescent ray 
Flecked in between the tryst 

Of night and day. 

Why fades a dream ? 
Of consciousness the shade 
Wrought out by lack of light and made 

Upon life's stream. 

Why fades a dream ? 



That thought may thrive, 

So fades the fleshless dream ; 
Lest men should learn to trust 

The things that seem. 

So fades a dream, 
That living thought may grow 
And like a waxing star-beam glow 

Upon life's stream 

So fades a dream. 



188 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



THE SPARROW 

A little bird, with plumage brown, 
Beside ray window flutters down, 
A moment chirps its little strain, 
Then taps upon my window-pane, 
And chirps again, and hops along, 
To call my notice to its song ; 
But I work on, nor heed its lay, 
Till, in neglect, it flies away.^ 

So birds of peace and hope and love 
Come fluttering earthward from above, 
To settle on life's window-sills, 
And ease our load of earthly ills ; 
But we, in traffic's rush and din 
Too deep engaged to let them in, 
With deadened heart and sense plod on, 
Nor know our loss till they are gone. 



SPEAKIN' O' CHRISTMAS 

Breezes blowin' middlin' brisk, 
Snow-flakes thro' the air a-whisk, 
Fallin' kind o' soft an' light, 
Not enough to make things white, 
But jest sorter siftin' down 
So's to cover up the brown 
Of the dark world's rugged ways 
'N* make things look like holidays. 
Not smoothed over, but jest specked, 
Sorter strainm' fur effect, 
An' not quite a-gittin' through 
What it started in to do. 
Mercy sakes ! it does seem queer 
Christmas day is 'most nigh here. 
Somehow it don't seem to me 
Christmas like it used to be, 
Christmas with its ice an' snow, 
Christmas of the long ago. 
You could feel its stir an' hum 
Weeks an' weeks before it come ; 
Somethin' in the atmosphere 
Told you when the day was near, 
Didn't need no almanacs ; 
That was one o' Nature's fac's. 
Every cottage decked out gay 
Cedar wreaths an' holly spray 
An' the stores, how they were drest, 
Tinsel tell you couldn't rest ; 
Every winder fixed up pat, 



Candy canes, an' things like that; 
Noah's arks, an' guns, an' dolls, 
An' all kinds o' fol-de-rols. 
Then with frosty bells a-chime, 
Slidin' down the hills o' time, 
Right amidst the fun an' din 
Christmas come a-bustlin' in, 
Raised his cheery voice to call 
Out a welcome to us all, 
Hale and hearty, strong an' bluff, 
That was Christmas, sure enough. 
Snow knee-deep an' coastin' fine, 
Frozen mill-ponds all ashine, 
Seemin' jest to lay in wait, 
Beggin' you to come an' skate. 
An' you'd git your gal an' go 
Stumpin' cheerily thro' the snow, 
Feelin' pleased an' skeert an' warm 
'Cause she had a-holt yore arm. 
Why, when Christmas come in, we 
Spent the whole glad day in glee, 
Havin' fun an' feastin' high 
An' some courtin' on the sly. 
Bustin' in some neighbor's door 
An' then suddenly, before 
He could give his voice a lift, 
Yellin' at him, " Christmas gift." 
Now sich things are never heard, 
" Merry Christmas " is the word. 
But it's only change o' name, 
An' means givin' jest the same. 
There's too many new-styled ways 
Now about the holidays. 
I'd jest like once more to see 
Christmas like it used to be ! 



LONESOME 

Mother's gone a-visitm' to spend a month 

er two, 
An', oh, the house is lonesome ez a nest 

whose birds has flew 
To other trees to build ag'in ; the rooms 

seem jest so bare 
That the echoes run like sperrits from the 

kitchen to the stair. 
The shelters flap more lazy-like 'n what 

they used to do, 
Sence mother's gone a-visitin' to spend a 

month er two. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



189 



We've killed the fattest chicken an' we've 

cooked her to a turn ; 
We've made the richest gravy, but I jest 

don't give a durn 
Fur nothin' 'at I drink er eat, er nothin' 

'at I see. 
The food ain't got the pleasant taste it 

used to have to me. 
They's somep'n' stickin' in my throat ez 

tight ez hardened glue, 
Sence mother's gone a-visitin' to spend a 

month er two. 

The hollyhocks air jest ez pink, they're 

double ones at that, 
An' I wuz prouder of 'em than a baby of a 

cat. 
But now I don't go near 'em, though 

they nod an' blush at me, 
Fur they's somep'n' seems to gall me in 

their keerless sort o' glee 
An' all their fren'ly noddin' an' their 

blushin' seems to say : 
" You're purty lonesome, John, old boy, 

sence mother's gone away." 

The neighbors ain't so fren'ly ez it seems 
they'd ort to be ; 

They seem to be a-lookin' kinder side 
ways like at me, 

A-kinder feared they'd tech me off ez ef I 
wuz a match, 

An' all because 'at mother's gone an' I'm 
a-keepin' batch ! 

I'm shore I don't do nothin' worse'n what 
I used to do 

'Fore mother went a-visitin' to spent a 
month er two. 

The sparrers ac's more fearsome like an' 

won't hop quite so near, 
The cricket's chirp is sadder, an' the sky 

ain't ha'f so clear ; 
When ev'nin' comes, I set an' smoke tell 

my eyes begin to swim, 
An' things aroun' commence to look all 

blurred an' faint an' dim. 
Well, I guess I'll have to own up 'at I'm 

feelin' purty blue 
Sence mother's gone a-visitin' to spend a 

month er two. 



GROWIN' GRAY 

Hello, ole man, you're a-gittin' gray, 

An' it beats ole Ned to see the way 

'At the crow's feet's a-getherin' aroun' yore 

eyes ; 

Tho' it oughtn't to cause me no su'prise, 
Fur there's many a sun 'at you've seen 

rise 

An' many a one you've seen go down 
Sence yore step was light an' yore hair was 

brown, 
An' storms an' snows have had their 

way 
Hello, ole man, you're a-gittin' gray. 

Hello, ole man, you're a-gittin' gray, 
An' the youthful pranks 'at you used to 

play 

Are dreams of a far past long ago 
That lie in a heart where the fires burn 

low 
That has lost the flame though it kept the 

glow, 

An' spite of drivin' snow an* storm, 
Beats bravely on forever warm. 
December holds the place of May 
Hello, ole man, you're a-gittin' gray. 

Hello, ole man, you're a-gittin' gray 
Who cares what the carpin' youngsters 

say ? 

For, after all, when the tale is told, 
Love proves if a man is young or old ! 
Old age can't make the heart grow cold 
When it does the will of an honest mind ; 
When it beats with love fur all mankind ; 
Then the night but leads to a fairer day 
Hello, ole man, you're a-gittin' gray ! 



TO THE MEMORY OF MARY 
YOUNG 

God has his plans, and what if we 
With our sight be too blind to see 
Their full fruition ; cannot he, 
Who made it, solve the mystery ? 
One whom we loved has fall'n asleep, 
Not died ; although her calm be deep, 
Some new, unknown, and strange surprise 
In Heaven holds enrapt her eyes. 



190 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



And can you blame her that her gaze 
Is turned away from earthly ways, 
When to her eyes God's light and love 
Have giv'n the view of things above ? 
A gentle spirit sweetly good, 
The pearl of precious womanhood ; 
Who heard the voice of duty clear, 
And found her mission soon and near. 

She loved all nature, flowers fair, 
The warmth of sun, the kiss of air, 
The birds that filled the sky with song, 
The stream that laughed its way along. 
Her home to her was shrine and throne, 
But one love held her not alone ; 
She sought out poverty and grief, 
Who touched her robe and found relief. 

So sped she in her Master's work, 

Too busy and too brave to shirk, 

When through the silence, dusk and dim, 

God called her and she fled to him. 

We wonder at the early call, 

And tears of sorrow can but fall 

For her o'er whom we spread the pall ; 

But faith, sweet faith, is over all. 

The house is dust, the voice is dumb, 
But through undying years to come, 
The spark that glowed within her soul 
Shall light our footsteps to the goal. 
She went her way ; but oh, she trod 
The path that led her straight to God. 
Such lives as this put death to scorn ; 
They lose our day to find God's morn. 

WHEN MALINDY SINGS 

This poem has been adjudged as the 
best of his dialect pieces. It has been set 
to music and sung in homes all over the 
land. It was dedicated to his mother 
whose name Matilda, was slightly modified 
to suit the rhythm and melody of the 
verses. 

Mr. Dunbar recited this poem before a 
critical audience in London, England, and 
it was given very complimentary mention 
in the London Daily News. 

While in New York in 1896, Mr. Dun- 
bar was tendered a reception by the entire 
staff of the Century Magazine, and was 



asked to read a few of his poems. This 
poem was among those recited that day. 
His hearers were loud in their applause, 
and showered compliments and congratula 
tions upon its author. 

Several of Mr. Dunbar's poems had been 
published in the Century before that date, 
but, full of the spirit of mischief, the 
young black man turned to Mr. Gilder, 
the editor of the Century, and said : 
. "That's one you returned." 

Mr. Gilder was a bit embarrassed, but 
gallantly said : 

" We'll take it yet." 

" Sorry," replied Dunbar laughingly, 
" but you're too late. It has now been 
accepted by another magazine." 

G'way an' quit dat noise, Miss Lucy 

Put dat music book away ; 
What's de use to keep on tryin' ? 

Ef you practise twell you're gray, 
You cain't sta't no notes a-flyin' 

Lak de ones dat rants and rings 
F'om the kitchen to de big woods 

When Malindy sings. 

You ain't got de nachel o'gans 

Fu' to make de soun' come right, 
You ain't got de tu'ns an' twistin's 

Fu' to make it sweet an' light. 
Tell you one thing now, Miss Lucy, 

An' I'm tellin' you fu' true, 
When hit comes to raal right singin', 

Tain't no easy thing to do. 

Easy 'nough fu' folks to hollah, 

Lookin' at de lines an' dots, 
When dey ain't no one kin sence it, 

An' de chune comes in, in spots; 
But fu' real melojous music, 

Dat jes' strikes yo' hea't and clings, 
Jes' you stan' an' listen wif me 

When Malindy sings. 

Ain't you nevah hyeahd Malindy ? 

Blessed soul, tek up de cross! 
Look hyeah, ain't you jokin', honey? 

Well, you don't know whut you los'. 
Y' ought to hyeah dat gal a-wa'blin', 

Robins, la'ks, an* all dem things, 




PUT DAT Music BOOK AWAY 




WHILE MALINDY SINGS 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



193 



Heish dey moufs an' hides dey faces 
"When Malindy sings. 

Fiddlin' man jes' stop his fiddlin', 

Lay his fiddle on de she'f ; 
Mockin'-bird quit tryin' to whistle, 

'Cause he jes' so shamed hisse'f. 
Folks a-playin' on de banjo 

Draps dey fingahs on de strings 
Bless yo' soul fu'gits to move 'em, 

When Malindy sings. 

She jes' spreads huh mouf and hollahs, 

" Come to Jesus," twell you hyeah 
Sinnahs' tremblin' steps and voices, 

Timid-lak a-drawin' neah ; 
Den she tu'ns to " Rock of Ages," 

Simply to de cross she clings, 
An' you fin' yo' teahs a-drappin' 

When Malindy sings. 

Who dat says dat humble praises 

Wif de Master nevah counts ? 
Heish yo' mouf, I hyeah dat music, 

Ez hit rises up an' mounts 
Floa'tin' by de hills an' valleys, 

Way above dis buryin' sod, 
Ez hit makes its way in glory 

To de very gates of God ! 

Oh, hit's sweetah dan de music 

Of an edicated band ; 
An' hit's dearah dan de battle's 

Song o' triumph in de Ian'. 
It seems holier dan evenin' 

When de solemn chu'ch bell rings, 
Ez I sit an' ca'mly listen 

While Malindy sings. 

Towsah, stop dat ba'kin', hyeah me ! 

Mandy, mek dat chile keep still ; 
Don't you hyeah de echoes callin' 

F'om de valley to de hill ? 
Let me listen, I can hyeah it, 

Th'oo de bresh of angel's wings, 
Sof an' sweet, " Swing Low, Sweet 
Chariot," 

Ez Malindy sings. 

THE PARTY 

Of this production William Dean 
Howells said in his notable article in 
Harper's Weekly : 



" I wish I could give the whole of the 
piece which he calls The Pahty,' but I 
must content myself with a passage or 
two. They will impart some sense of the 
jolly rush of movement, its vivid pictur- 
esqueness, its broad characterization, and 
will perhaps suffice to show what vistas 
into the simple, sensuous, joyous nature of 
his race Mr. Dunbar's work opens." He 
then quoted a number of the lines. 

" One sees," continued Mr. Howells, 
" how the poet exults in his material as 
the artist always does. It is not for him 
to blink its commonness, or to be ashamed 
of its rudeness : and in his treatment of it 
he has been able to bring us nearer to the 
heart of primitive human nature in his 
race than any one else has yet done." 

(These quotations from Mr. Howells' 
article are used by permission and courtesy 
of Messrs. Harper & Brothers.) 



Dey had a gread big pahty down to Tom's 

de othah night ; 
Was I dah ? You bet ! I nevah in my 

life see sich a sight ; 

All de folks f'om fou' plantations was in 
vited, an' dey come, 
Dey come troopin' thick ez chillun when 

dey hyeahs a fife an' drum. 
Evahbody dressed deir fines' Heish yo' 

mouf an' git away, 
Ain't seen no sich fancy dressin' sence las' 

quah'tly meetin' day ; 
Gals all dressed in silks an' satins, not a 

wrinkle ner a crease, 
Eyes a-battin', teeth a-shinin', haih breshed 

back ez slick ez grease ; 
Sku'ts all tucked an' puffed an' ruffled, 

evah blessed seam an' stitch; 
Ef you'd seen 'em wif deir mistus, couldn't 

swahed to which was which. 
Men all dressed up in Prince Alberts, 

swallertails Vd tek yo' bref I 
I cain't tell you nothin' 'bout it, yo' ought 

to seen it fu' yo'se'f. 
Who was dah ? Now who you askin' ? 

How you 'spect I gwine to know ? 
You mus' think I stood an' counted evah- 

body at de do'. 



194 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Ole man Babah's house boy Isaac, brung 

dat gal, Malindy Jane, 
Huh a-hangin' to his elbow, him a struttin' 

wif a cane ; 
My, but Hahvey Jones was jealous ! seemed 

to stick him lak a tho'n ; 
But he laughed with Viney Cahteh, tryin' 

ha'd to not let on, 
But a pusson would 'a' noticed fom de 

d'rection of his look, 
Dat he was watchin' ev'ry step dat Ike an' 

Lindy took. 
Ike he foun' a cheer an' asked huh : 

" Won't you set down ? " wif a smile, 
An' she answe'd up a-bowin', " Oh, I 

reckon 'tain't wuth while." 
Dat was jes' fu' style, I reckon, 'cause she 

sot down jes' de same, 
An' she stayed dah 'twell he fetched huh 

fu' to jine some so't o' game ; 
Den I hyeahd huh sayin' propah, ez she 

riz to go away, 
" Oh, you raly mus' excuse me, fu' I 

hardly keers to play." 
But I seen huh in a minute wif de othahs 

on de flo', 
An' dah wasn't any one o' dem a-playin' 

any mo' ; 
Comin' down de flo' a-bowin' an' a-swayin' 

an' a-swingin', 
Puttin' on huh high-toned mannahs all de 

time dat she was singin' : 
" Oh, swing Johnny up an' down, swing 

him all aroun', 
Swing Johnny up an' down, swing him all 

aroun', 
Oh, swing Johnny up an* down, swing 

him all aroun', 
Fa' you well, my dahlinV 
Had to laff at ole man Johnson, he's a 

caution now, you bet 
Hittin' clost onto a hunderd, but he's spry 

an' nimble yet ; 
He 'lowed how a-so't o' gigglin', " I ain't 

ole, I'll let you see, 
D'ain't no use in gittin' feeble, now you 

youngstahs jes' watch me," 
An' he grabbed ole Aunt Marier weighs 

th'ee hunderd mo' er less, 
An' he spun huh 'roun' de cabin swingin' 

Johnny lak de res'. 



Evahbody laffed an' hollahed : " Go it 

Swing huh, Uncle Jim ! " 
An' he swung huh too, I reckon, lak a 

youngstah, who but him. 
Dat was bettah'n young Scott Thomas, 

try In' to be so awful smaht. 
You know when dey gits to singin' an' dey 

comes to dat ere paht : 

" In some lady's new brick house, 

In some lady's gyahden. 

Ef you don't let me out, I will 
jump out, 

So fa' you well, my dahlin'." 
Den dey's got a circle 'roun' you, an'you's 

got to break de line ; 
Well, dat dahky was so anxious, lak to 

bust hisse'f a-tryin' ; 
Kep' on blund'rin' 'roun' an' foolin' 'twell 

he giv' one gread big jump, 
Broke de line, an' lit head-fo'most in de 

fiahplace right plump ; 
Hit 'ad fiah in it, mind you ; well, I 

thought my soul I'd bust, 
Tried my best to keep fom laftin', but hit 

seemed like die I must ! 
Y' ought to seen dat man a-scramblin' 

f'om de ashes an' de grime. 
Did it bu'n him ! Sich a question, why he 

didn't give it time' ; 
Th'ow'd dem ashes and dem cindahs evah 

which-a-way I guess, 
An' you nevah did, I reckon, clap yo' 

eyes on sich a mess ; 
Fu' he sholy made a picter an' a funny 

one to boot, 
Wif his clothes all full o' ashes an' his face 

all full o' soot. 
Well, hit laked to'stopped de pahty, an' I 

reckon lak ez not 
Dat it would ef Tom's wife, Mandy, hadn't 

happened on de spot, 
To invite us out to suppah well, we 

scrambled to de table, 
An' I'd lak to tell you 'bout it what we 

had but I ain't able, 
Mention jes' a few things, dough I know I 

hadn't orter, 
Fu' I know 'twill staht a hank'rin' an' yo' 

mouf '11 'mence to worter. 
We had wheat bread white ez cotton an' a 

egg pone jes' like goF, 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



195 



Hog jole, bilin' hot an' steamin' roasted 

shoat an' ham sliced cold 
Look out ! What's de mattah wif you ? 

Don't be Tallin' on de flo' ; 
Ef it's goV to 'feet you dat way, I won't 

tell you nothin' mo'. 
Dah now well, we had hot chittlin's 

now you's tryin' ag'in to fall, 
Cain't you stan' to hyeah about it ? S'pose 

you'd been an' seed it all ; 
Seed dem gread big sweet pertaters, layin' 

by de possum's side, 
Seed dat coon in all his gravy, reckon den 

you'd up and died ! 
Mandy 'lowed " you all mus' 'scuse me, d* 

wa'n't much upon my she'ves, 
But I's done my bes' to suit you, so set 

down an' he'p yo'se'ves." 
Tom,, he 'lowed : " I don't b'lieve in 'pol- 

ogizin' an' perfessin', 
Let 'em tek it lak dey ketch it. Eldah 

Thompson, ask de blessin'." 
Wish you'd seed dat colo'ed preachah 

cleah his th'oat an' bow his head ; 
One eye shet, an' one eye open, dis is 

evah wud he said : 
" Lawd, look down in tendah mussy on 

sich generous hea'ts ez dese ; 
Make us truly thankful, amen. Pass dat 

possum, ef you please ! " 
Well, we eat and drunk ouah po'tion, 

'twell dah wasn't nothin' lef, 
An' we felt jes' like new sausage, we was 

mos' nigh stuffed to def ! 
Tom, he knowed how we'd be feelin', 

so lie had de fiddlah 'roun', 
An' he made us cleah de cabin fu' to dance 

dat suppah down. 
Jim, de fiddlah, chuned his fiddle, put 

some rosum on his bow, 
Set a pine box on de table, mounted it an' 

let huh go ! 
He's a fiddlah, now I tell you, an' he made 

dat fiddle ring, 
'Twell de ol'est an' de lamest had to give 

deir feet a fling. 
Jigs, cotillions, reels an' break-downs, 

cordrills an' a waltz er two ; 
Bless yo' soul, dat music winged 'em an' 

dem people lak to flew. 
Cripple Joe, cL ole rheumatic, danced dat 
flo' f om side to middle, 



Th'owed away his crutch an' hopped it, 

what's rheumatics 'ginst a fiddle ? 
Eldah Thompson got so tickled dat he lak 

to los' his grace, 
Had to tek bofe feet an' hoi' dem so's to 

keep 'em in deir place. 
An' de Christuns an' de sinnahs got so 

mixed up on dat flo', 
Dat I don't see how dey'd pahted ef de 

trump had chanced to blow. 
Well, we danced dat way an' capahed in 

de mos' redic'lous way, 
'Twell de roostahs in de bahnyard cleahed 

deir th'oats an' crowed fu' day. 
Y' ought to been dah, fu' I tell you evah- 

thing was rich an' prime, 
An' dey ain't no use in talkin', we jes' had 

one scrumptious time ! 



LOVE'S APOTHEOSIS 

Love me. I care not what the circling 
years 

To me may do. 
If, but in spite of time and tears, 

You prove but true. 

Love me albeit grief shall dim mine eyes, 

And tears bedew, 
I shall not e'en complain, for then my skies 

Shall still be blue. 

Love me, and though the winter snow 

shall pile, 

And leave me chill, 
Thy passion's warmth shall make for me, 

meanwhile, 
A sun-kissed hill. 

And when the days have lengthened into 

years, 

And I grow old, 
Oh, spite of pains and griefs and cares and 

fears, 
Grow thou not cold. 

Then hand and hand we shall pass up 

the hill, ' 
I say not down ; 



196 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



That twain go up, of love, who've loved 

their fill, 
To gain love's crown. 

Love me, and let my life take up thine 

own, 

As sun the dew. 
Come, sit, my queen, for in my heart a 

throne 
Awaits for you ! 



THE PARADOX 

I am the mother of sorrows, 

I am the ender of grief; 
I am the bud and the blossom, 

I am the late-falling leaf. 

I am thy priest and thy poet, 
I am thy serf and thy king ; 

I cure the tears of the heartsick, 
When I come near they shall sing. 

White are my hands as the snowdrop ; 

Swart are my fingers as clay ; 
Dark is my frown as the midnight, 

Fair is my brow as the day. 

Battle and war are my minions, 

Doing my will as divine ; 
I am the calmer of passions, 

Peace is a nursling of mine. 

Speak to me gently or curse me, 
Seek me or fly from my sight ; 

I am thy fool in the morning, 
Thou art my slave in the night. 

Down to the grave will I take thee, 
Out from the noise of the strife ; 

Then shalt thou see me and know me 
Death, then, no longer, but life. 

Then shalt thou sing at my coming, 
Kiss me with passionate breath, 

Clasp me and smile to have thought me 
Aught save the foeman of Death. 

Come to me, brother, when weary, 
Come when thy lonely heart swells ; 

I'll guide thy footsteps and lead thee 
Down where the Dream Woman 
dwells. 



OVER THE HILLS 

Over the hills and the valleys of dreaming 

Slowly I take my way. 
Life is the night with its dream-visions 
teeming, 

Death is the waking at day. 

Down thro' the dales and the bowers of 

loving, 

Singing, I roam afar. 

Daytime or night-time, I constantly rov 
ing, 
Dearest one, thou art my star. 



WITH THE LARK 

Night is for sorrow and dawn is for joy, 
Chasing the troubles that fret and annoy ; 
Darkness for sighing and daylight for 

song, 
Cheery and chaste the strain, heartfelt and 

strong. 
All the night through, though I moan in 

the dark, 
I wake in the morning to sing with the 

lark. 

Deep in the midnight the rain whips the 

leaves, 

Softly and sadly the wood-spirit grieves. 
But when the first hue of dawn tints the 

sky, 
I shall shake out my wings like the birds 

and be dry ; 
And though, like the rain-drops, I grieved 

through the dark, 
I shall wake in the morning to sing with 

the lark. 

On the high hills of heaven, some morning 

to be, 
Where the rain shall not grieve thro' the 

leaves of the tree, 
There my heart will be glad for the pain I 

have known, 
For my hand will be clasped in the hand 

of mine own ; 
And though life has been b*rd and death's 

pathway been dark, 
I shall wake in th" morning to sing with 

the lark. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



197 



IN SUMMER 

Oh, summer has clothed the earth 
In a cloak from the loom of the sun ! 

And a mantle, too, of the skies' soft blue, 
And a belt where the rivers run. 

And now for the kiss of the wind, 
And the touch of the air's soft hands, 

With the rest from strife and the heat of 

life, 
With the freedom of lakes and lands. 

I envy the farmer's boy 

Who sings as he follows the plow ; 
While the shining green of the young 
blades lean 

To the breezes that cool his brow. 

He sings to the dewy morn, 

No thought of another's ear; 
But the song he sings is a chant for kings 

And the whole wide world to hear. 

He sings of the joys of life, 

Of the pleasures of work and rest, 

From an o'erfull heart, without aim or 

art; 
'Tis a song of the merriest. 

O ye who toil in the town, 

And ye who moil in the mart, 
Hear the artless song, and your faith 
made strong 

Shall renew your joy of heart. 

Oh, poor were the worth of the world 
If never a song were heard, 

If the sting of grief had no relief, 
And never a heart were stirred. 

So, long as the streams run down, 
And as long as the robins trill, 

Let us taunt old Care with a merry air, 
A n d sing in the face of ill. 



THE MYSTIC SEA 

The smell of the sea in my nostrils, 
The sound of the sea in mine ears ; 

The touch of the spray on my burning face, 
Like the mist of reluctant tears. 



The blue of the sky above me, 
The green of the waves beneath ; 

The sun flashing down on a gray-white sail 
Like a scimetar from its sheath. 

And ever the breaking billows, 

And ever the rocks' disdain ; 
And ever a thrill in mine inmost heart 

That my reason cannot explain. 

So I say to my heart, " Be silent, 

The mystery of time is here ; 
Death's way will be plain when we fathom 
the main, 

And the secret of life be clear." 



A SAILOR'S SONG 

Oh, for the breath of the briny deep, 
And the tug of a bellying sail, 

With the sea-gull's cry across the sky 
And a passing boatman's hail. 

For, be she fierce or be she gay, 

The sea is a famous friend alway. 

Ho ! for the plains where the dolphins play, 
And the bend of the masts and spars, 

And a fight at night with the wild sea-sprite 
When the foam has drowned the stars. 

And, pray, what joy can the landsman feel 

Like the rise and fall of a sliding keel ? 

Fair is the mead ; the lawn is fair 
And the birds sing sweet on the lea; 

But the echo soft of a song aloft 
Is the strain that pleases me ; 

And swish of rope and ring of chain 

Are music to men who sail the main. 

Then, if you love me, let me sail 
While a vessel dares the deep ; 

For the ship's my wife, and the breath of 

life 
Are the raging gales that sweep; 

And when I'm done with calm and blast, 

A slide o'er the side, and rest at last. 



THE BOHEMIAN 

That Paul Dunbar like all real artists 
scorned convention ^nd believed in a 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



simple, natural existence, untrammeled by 
men's laws or foolish rules of etiquette, is 
shown in this brief bit of rhyme, which 
was composed after a conversation upon 
the subject with a sympathetic friend. 

Bring me the livery of no other man. 

I am my own to robe me at my pleasure. 

Accepted rules to me disclose no treasure : 
What is the chief who shall my garments 
plan? 

No garb conventional but I'll attack it. 

(Come, why not don my spangled jacket ?) 

ABSENCE 

Good-night, my love, for I have dreamed 
of thee 

In waking dreams, until my soul is lost 
Is lost in passion's wide and shoreless sea, 

Where, like a ship, unruddered, it is tost 
Hither and thither at the wild waves' will. 
There is no potent Master's voice to still 
This newer, more tempestuous Galilee ! 

The stormy petrels of my fancy fly 

In warning course across the darkening 
green, 

And, like a frightened bird, my heart doth 

cry 

And seek to find some rock of rest be 
tween 

The threatening sky and the relentless 
wave. 

It is not length of life that grief doth crave, 

But only calm and peace in which to die. 

Here let me rest upon this single hope, 

For oh, my wings are weary of the wind, 
And with its stress no more may strive or 

cope. 
One cry has dulled mine ears, mine eyes 

are blind, 

Would that o'er all the intervening space, 
I might fly forth and see thee face to face. 
I fly ; I search, but, love, in gloom I grope. 

Fly home, far bird, unto thy waiting nest ; 
Spread thy strong wings above the wind 
swept sea. 

Beat the grim breeze with thy unruffled 
breast 



Until thou sittest wing to wing with me. 
Then, let the past bring up its tales of 

wrong ; 
We shall chant low our sweet connubial 

song, 

Till storm and doubt and past no more 
shall be ! 



HER THOUGHT AND HIS 

The gray of the sea, and the gray of the 
sky, 

A glimpse of the moon like a half-closed 
eye. 

The gleam on the waves and the light on 
the land, 

A thrill in my heart, and my sweet 
heart's hand. 

She turned from the sea with a woman's 

grace, 
And the light fell soft on her upturned 

face, 
And I thought of the flood-tide of infinite 

bliss 
That would flow to my heart from a single 

kiss. 

But my sweetheart was shy, so I dared not 

ask 

For the boon, so bravely I wore the mask. 
But into her face there came a flame ; 
I wonder could she have been thinking the 

same? 



THE RIGHT TO DIE 

One evening Mr. Dunbar and a friend 
of whom he was very fond, and in whose 
presence the poet felt no restraint, were 
talking of suicide. The friend took the 
orthodox and popular view of the dreadful 
practice. 

Dunbar stood with his hands at his back 
before an open fire. Suddenly with up 
turned eyes, and in earnest tones he began 
to improvise his reply in verse. So unusual 
was the sentiment and so daring the thought 
that his listener compelled him to take a 
seat at a desk and write it out ere the lines 
escaped him. Many of Dunbar's best 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



199 



poems came thus, and passed away with 
his breath, as he did not pause to set them 
down. 

I have no fancy for that ancient cant 
That makes us masters of our destinies, 
And not our lives, to hold or give them up 
As will directs; I cannot, will not think 
That men, the subtle worms, who plot and 

plan 
Arid scheme and calculate with such shrewd 

wit, 
Are such great blund'ring fools as not to 

know 
When they have lived enough. 

Men court not death 
When there are sweets still left in life to 

taste. 
Nor will a brave man choose to live when 

he, 
Full deeply drunk of life, has reached the 

dregs, 

And knows that now but bitterness re 
mains. 

He is the coward who, outfaced in this, 
Fears the false goblins of another life. 
I honor him who being much harassed 
Drinks of sweet courage until drunk of it, 
Then seizing Death, reluctant, by the hand, 
Leaps with him, fearless, to eternal peace ! 



BEHIND THE ARRAS 

As in some dim baronial hall restrained, 
A prisoner sits, engirt by secret doors 
And waving tapestries that argue forth 
Strange passages into the outer air ; 
So in this dimmer room which we call life, 
Thus sits the soul and marks with eye in 
tent 

That mystic curtain o'er the portal death ; 
Still deeming that behind the arras lies 
The lambent way that leads to lasting 

light. 
Poor fooled and foolish soul ! Know now 

that death 
Is but a blind, false door that nowhere 

leads, 
And gives no hope of exit final, free. 

12 



WHEN THE OLD MAN SMOKES 

In the forenoon's restful quiet, 

When the boys are off at school, 
When the window lights are shaded 

And the chimney-corner cool, 
Then the old man seeks his armchair, 

Lights his pipe and settles back ; 
Falls a-dreaming as he draws it 

Till the smoke-wreaths gather black. 

And the tear-drops come a trickling 

Down his cheeks, a silver flow 
Smoke or memories you wonder, 

But you never ask him, no ; 
For there's something almost sacred 

To the other family folks 
In those moods of silent dreaming 

When the old man smokes. 

Ah, perhaps he sits there dreaming 

Of the love of other days 
And of how he used to lead her 

Through the merry dance's maze; 
How he called her " little princess," 

And, to please her, used to twine 
Tender wreaths to crown her tresses, 

From the " matrimony vine." 

Then before his mental vision 

Comes, perhaps, a sadder day, 
When they left his little princess 

Sleeping with her fellow clay. 
How his young heart throbbed, and pained 
him ! 

Why, the memory of it chokes ! 
Is it of these things he's thinking 

W T hen the old man smokes ? 

But some brighter thoughts possess him, 

For the tears are dried the while. 
And the old, worn face is wrinkled 

In a reminiscent smile, 
From the middle of the forehead 

To the feebly trembling lip, 
At some ancient prank remembered 

Or some long unheard-of quip. 

Then the lips relax their tension 

And the pipe begins to slide, 
Till in little clouds of ashes, 

It falls softly at his side ; 



200 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



And his head bends low and lower 
Till his chin lies on his breast, 

And he sits in peaceful slumber 
Like a little child at rest. 

Dear old man, there's something sad'ning, 

In these dreamy moods of yours, 
Since the present proves so fleeting, 

All the past for you endures. 
Weeping at forgotten sorrows, 

Smiling at forgotten jokes ; 
Life epitomized in minutes, 

When the old man smokes. 



THE GARRET 

The poverty which befel Mr. Dunbar 
while in London, and which would have 
wholly discouraged many another sensitive 
soul, proved only a frame upon which he 
hung beautiful garlands of song. 

The little poem, given herewith, shows 
that his English was a bit Londonized 
while in that city, but the philosophic 
cheerfulness was the same that came with 
him into the world, and forms the trim 
ming of so many of his graceful poems. 
No doubt if he had been stranded on a 
desert island, he would have found abun 
dant food for fun and would have written 
humorous verse at his own expense, to 
while the time away. 

Within a London garret high, 
Above the roofs and near the sky, 
My ill-rewarding pen I ply 

To win me bread. 
This little chamber, six by four, 
Is castle, study, den and more, 
Altho' no carpet decks the floor, 

Nor down, the bed. 



My room is rather bleak and bare ; 

I only have one broken chair, 

But then, there's plenty of fresh air, 

Some light, beside. 
What tho' I cannot ask my friends 
To share with me my odds and ends, 
& liberty my aerie lends, 

To most denied. 



The bore who falters at the stair 
No more shall be my curse and care, 
And duns shall fail to find my lair 

With beastly bills. 
When debts have grown and funds are 

short, 

I find it rather pleasant sport 
To live " above the common sort " 

With all their ills. 



I write my rhymes and sing away, 
And dawn may come or dusk or day: 
Tho' fare be poor, my heart is gay, 

And full of glee. 

Though chimney-pots be all my view; 
'Tis nearer for the winging Muse, 
So I am sure she'll not refuse 

To visit me. 



LITTLE BROWN BABY 

Little brown baby wif spa'klin' eyes, 

Come to yo' pappy an' set on his knee. 
What you been doin', suh makin' san' 

pies ? 

Look at dat bib you's ez du'ty ez me. 
Look at dat mouf dat's merlasses, I bet ; 
Come hyeah, Maria, an' wipe off his 

han's. 
Bees gwine to ketch you an' eat you up 

. y*' 

Bein' so sticky an* sweet goodness 
lan's! 



Little brown baby wif spa'klin' eyes, 
Who's pappy's darlin' an' who's pappy's 

chile ? 
Who is it all de day nevah once tries 

Fu' to be cross, er once loses dat smile ? 
Whah did you git dem teef ? My, you's a 

scamp ! 
Whah did dat dimple come fom inyo' 

chin ? 
Pappy do' know yo I b'lieves you's a 

tramp; 

Mammy, dis hyeah's some ol' straggler 
got in 1 




\ 




WHO'S PAPPY'S DARLIN' 




DEN You MEN'S DE MULE'S OL' HA'NESS 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



203 



Let's th'ow him outen de do' in de san', 
We do' want stragglers a-layin* 'roun' 

hyeah ; 

Let's gin mm 'way to de big buggah-man ; 
I know he's hidin' erroun' hyeah right 

neah. 
Buggah-man, buggah-man, come in de 

do', 
Hyeah 's a bad boy you kin have fu' to 

eat 

Mammy an' pappy do' want him no mo', 
Swaller him down fom his haid to his 
feet! 

Dah, now, I t'ought dat you'd hug me up 

close. 
Go back, ol' buggah, you sha'n't have 

dis boy. 
He ain't no tran,p, ner no straggler, of 

co'se ; 
He's pappy's pa'dner an' playmate an' 

joy. 

Come to you' pallet now go to yo' res' ; 
Wisht you could allus know ease an' 

cleah skies ; 
Wisht you could stay jes' a chile on my 

breas' 
Little brown baby wif spa'klin' eyes ! 



TIME TO TINKER 'ROUN' 

Summah's nice, wif sun a-shinin', 

Spring is good wif greens and grass, 
An' dey's some t'ings nice 'bout wintah, 

Dough hit brings de freezin' bias' ; 
But de time dat is the fines', 

Whethah fiel's is green or brown, 
Is w'en de rain's a-po'in' 

An' dey's time to tinker 'roun'. 

Den you men's de mule's ol' ha'ness, 

An' you msn's de broken chair. 
Hummin' all de time you's wo'kin' 

Some ol' common kind o' air. 
Evah now an' then you looks out, 

Tryin' mighty ha'd to frown, 
But you cain't, you's glad hit's rainin', 

An' dey's time to tinker 'roun'. 



Oh, you 'ten's lak you so anxious 

Evah time it so't o' stops. 
W'en hit goes on, den you reckon 

Dat de wet'll he'p de crops. 
But hit ain't de crops you's aftah ; 

You knows w'en de rain comes down 
Dat hit's too wet out fu' wo'kin', 

An' dey's time to tinker 'roun'. 

Oh, dey's fun inside de co'n-crib, 

An' dey's laffin' at de ba'n; 
An' dey's allus some one jokin', 

Er some one to tell a ya'n. 
Dah's a quiet in yo' cabin, 

Only fu' de rain's sof ' soun' ; 
So you's mighty blessed happy 

W'en dey's time to tinker 'roun' I 

A BRIDAL MEASURE 

Come, essay a sprightly measure, 
Tuned to some light song of pleasure. 
Maidens, let your brows be crowned 
As we foot this merry round. 

From the ground a voice is singing, 
From the sod a soul is springing. 
Who shall say 'tis but a clod 
Quick'ning upwa-rd towards its God ? 

Who shall say it ? Who may know it, 
That the clod is not a poet 

Waiting but a gleam to waken 

In a spirit music-shaken? 

Phyllis, Phyllis, why be waiting ? 

In the woods the birds are mating. 
From the tree beside the wall, 
Hear the am'rous robin call. 

Listen to yon thrush's trilling ; 
Phyllis, Phyllis, are you willing, 

When love speaks from cave and tree, 

Only we should silent be ? 

When the year, itself renewing, 
All the world with flowers is strewing, 
Then through Youth's Arcadian land, 
Love and song go hand in hand. 

Come, unfold your vocal treasure. 
Sing with me a nuptial measure,* 
Let this spring-time gambol be 
Bridal dance for you and me. 



204 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



TO E. H. K. 

ON THE RECEIPT OF A FAMILIAR POEM 

To me, like hauntings of a vagrant breath 
From some far forest which I once have 

known, 
The perfume of this flower of verse is 

blown. 

Tho' seemingly soul-blossoms faint to death, 
Naught that with joy she bears e'er with- 

ereth. 
So, tho' the pregnant years have come 

and flown, 
Lives come and gone and altered like 

mine own, 
This poem comes to me a shibboleth : 



Brings sound of past communings to my 

ear, 
Turns round the tide of time and bears 

me back 
Along an old and long untraversed 

way; 

Makes me forget this is a later year, 
Makes me tread o'er a reminiscent track, 
Half sad, half glad, to one forgotten 
day! 



VENGEANCE IS SWEET 

When I was young I longed for Love, 

And held his glory far above 

All other earthly things. I cried : 

" Come, Love, dear Love, with me abide ; " 

And with my subtlest art I wooed, 

And eagerly the wight pursued. 

But Love was gay and Love was shy, 

He laughed at me and passed me by. 

Well, I grew old and I grew gray, 
When Wealth came wending down my 

way. 

I took his golden hand with glee, 
And comrades from that day were we. 
Then Love came back with doleful face, 
And prayed that I would give him place. 
But, though his eyes with tears were dim, 
I turned my back and laughed at him. 



A HYMN 

AFTER READING " LEAD, KINDLY LIGHT.' 
Lead gently, Lord, and slow, 

For oh, my steps are weak, 
And ever as I go, 

Some soothing sentence speak j 

That I may turn my face 
Through doubt's obscurity 

Towards thine abiding-place, 
E'en tho' I cannot see. 

For lo, the way is dark ; 

Through mist and cloud I grope, 
Save for that fitful spark, 

"Jhe little flame of hope. 

Lead gently, Lord, and slow, 
For fear that I may fall ; 

I know not where to go 
Unless I hear thy call. 

My fainting soul doth yearn 
For thy green hills afar; 

So let thy mercy burn 
My greater, guiding star ! 



JUST WHISTLE A BIT 

Just whistle a bit, if the day be dark, 

And the sky be overcast : 
If mute be the voice of the piping lark, 

Why, pipe your own small blast. 

And it's wonderful how o'er the gray sky- 
track 

The truant warbler comes stealing back. 

But why need he come ? for your soul's at 
rest, 

And the song in the heart, ah, that is 
best. 

Just whistle a bit, if the night be drear 
And the stars refuse to shine : 

And a gleam that mocks the starlight clear 
Within you glows benign. 

Till the dearth of light in the glooming 

skies 

Is lost to the sight of your soul-lit eyes. 
What matters the absence of moon or star? 
The light within is the best by far. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



205 



Just whistle a bit, if there's work to do, 

With the mind or in the soil. 
And your note will turn out a talisman 
true 

To exorcise grim Toil. 

It will lighten your burden and make you 

feel 
That there's nothing like work as a sauce 

for a meal. 
And with song in your heart and the meal 

in its place, 
There'll be joy in your bosom and light in 

your face. 

Just whistle a bit, if your heart be sore 
'Tis a wonderful balm for pain. 

Just pipe some old melody o'er and o'er 
Till it soothes like summer rain. 

And perhaps 'twould be best in a later o.a.y, 
When Death comes stalking down the way, 
To knock at your bosom and see if you're 

fit, 
Then, as you wait calmly, just whistle a 

bit. 



THE BARRIER 

The Midnight wooed the Morning-Star, 
And prayed her : " Love, come nearer ; 

Your swinging coldly there afar 
To me but makes you dearer ! " 

The Morning-Star was pale with dole 

As said she, low replying : 
" Oh, lover mine, soul of my soul, 

For you I too am sighing. 

" But One ordained when we were born, 

In spite of Love's insistence, 
That Night might only view the Morn 

Adoring at a distance." 

3ut as she spoke the jealous Sun 

Across the heavens panted. 
"Oh, whining fools," he cried, " have one ; 

Your wishes shall be granted ! " 

He hurled his flaming lances far; 

The twain, stood unaffrighted 
And midnight and the Morning-Star 

Lay down in death united ! 



DREAMS 

Dream on, for dreams are sweet * 

Do not awaken ! 
Dream on, and at thy feet 

Pomegranates shall be shaken. 

Who likeneth the youth 

Of life to morning ? 
'Tis like the night in truth, 

Rose-colored dreams adorning. 

The wind is soft above, 

The shadows umber. 
(There is a dream called Love.) 

Take thou the fullest slumber! 

In Lethe's soothing stream, 
Thy thirst thou slakest. 

Sleep, sleep ; 'tis sweet to dream. 
Oh, weep when thou awakest ! 



THE DREAMER 

Temples he built and palaces of air, 

And, with the artist's parent-pride aglow, 
His fancy saw his vague ideals grow 

Into creations marvelously fair ; 

He set his foot upon Fame's nether stair. 
But ah, his dream, it had entranced 

him so 

He could not move. He could no 
farther go ; 

But paused in joy that he was even there ! 

He did not wake until one day there 

gleamed 
Thro' his dark consciousness a light 

that racked 

His being till he rose, alert to act. 
But lo ! what he had dreamed, the while 

he dreamed, 

Another, wedding action unto thought, 
Into the living, pulsing world had 
brought. 



WAITING 

The sun has slipped his tether 

And galloped down the west. 
(Oh, it's weary, weary waiting, love.) 



206 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



The little bird is sleeping 

In the softness of its nest. 
Night follows day, day follows dawn, 
And so the time has come and gone : 

And it's weary, weary waiting, love. 

The cruel wind is rising 

With a whistle and a wail. 
(And it's weary, weary waiting, love.) 
My eyes are seaward straining 

For the coming of a sail ; 
But void the sea, and void the beach 
Far and beyond where gaze can reach ! 

And it's weary, weary waiting, love. 

I heard the bell-buoy ringing 

How long ago it seems ! 
(Oh, it's weary, weary waiting, love.) 
And ever still, its knelling 

Crashes in upon my dreams. 
The banns were read, my frock was sewn ; 
Since then two seasons' winds have 
blown 

And it's weary, weary waiting, love. 

The stretches of the ocean 

Are bare and bleak to-day. 
(Oh, it's weary, weary waiting, love.) 
My eyes are growing dimmer 

Is it tears, or age, or spray ? 
But I will stay till you come home. 
Strange ships come in across the foam ! 

But it's weary, weary waiting, love. 



THE END OF THE CHAPTER 

So prone is humanity to "jump at con 
clusions " that when the newspaper chron 
iclers set about finding "things. to say" 
about Paul Laurence Dunbar at the time 
of his death, they unanimously concluded 
that this poem referred to the end of Mr. 
Dunbar's married life, and so stated with 
out reservation. A careful study of his 
work reveals the fact that these stanzas 
were written long before his marriage, 
and were no doubt suggested by the un 
happy termination of some other man's 
connubial happiness. 

That they proved startlingly prophetic 
in liis own case cannot be denied, for, as 



he said for another he might well have 
said for himself 

" so close the book. 
But brought it grief or brought it bliss, 
No other page shall read like this ! " 



No one will deny that while he had, 
like all poets, hundreds of "passing 
fancies " for fair woman, he was a man of 
one great passion, and that was for his 
estranged wife. 

Ah, yes, the chapter ends to-day; 
We even lay the book away ; 
But oh, how sweet the moments sped 
Before the final page was read ! 

We tried to read between the lines 
The Author's deep-concealed designs ; 
But scant reward such search secures ; 
You saw my heart and I saw yours. 

The Master, he who penned the page 
And bade us read it, he is sage : 
And what he orders, you and I 
Can but obey, nor question why. 

We read together and forgot 

The world about us. Time was not. 

Unheeded and unfelt, it fled. 

We read and hardly knew we read. 

Until beneath a sadder sun, 
We came to know the book was done. 
Then, as our minds were but new lit, 
It dawned upon us what was writ ; 

And we were startled. In our eyes, 
Looked forth the light of great surprise. 
Then as a deep-toned tocsin tolls, 
A voice spoke forth : " Behold your souls ! " 

I do, I do. I cannot look 
Into your eyes : so close the book. 
But brought it grief or brought it bliss, 
No other page shall read like this ! 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



207 



SYMPATHY 

I know what the caged bird feels, alas ! 
When the sun is bright on the upland 

slopes ; 
When the wind stirs soft through the 

springing grass, 

And the river flows like a stream of glass ; 
When the first bird sings and the first 

bud opes, 
And the faint perfume from its chalice 

steals 
I know what the caged bird feels ! 

I know why the caged bird beats his 

wing 

Till its blood is red on the cruel bars ; 
For he must fly back to his perch and 

cling 
When he fain would be on the bough 

a-swing ; 
And a pain still throbs in the old, old 

scars 
And they pulse again with a keener 

sting 
I know why he beats his wing ! 

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me, 
When his wing is bruised and his 

bosom sore, 
When he beats his bars and he would be 

free; 
It is not a carol of joy or glee, 

But a prayer that he sends from his 

heart's deep core, 
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he 

flings 
I know why the caged bird sings ! 

LOVE AND GRIEF 

Out of my heart, one treach'rous winter's 

day, 
I locked young Love and threw the key 

away. 

Grief, wandering widely, found the key, 
And hastened with it, straightway, back 

to me, 
With Love beside him. He unlocked the 

door 
And bade Love enter with him there and 

stay. 
And so the twain abide for evermore. 



LOVE'S CHASTENING 

Once Love grew bold and arrogant of air, 
Proud of the youth that made him fresh 

and fair; 
So unto Grief he spake, " What right hast 

thou 
To part or parcel of this heart ? " Grief's 

brow 
Was darkened with the storm of inward 

strife ; 
Thrice smote he Love as only he might 

dare, 
And Love, pride purged, was chastened 

all his life. 



MORTALITY 

Ashes to ashes, dust unto dust, 

What of his loving, what of his lust ? 

What of his passion, what of his pain ? 

What of his poverty, what of his pride ? 

Earth, the great mother, has called him 
again : 

Deeply he sleeps, the world's verdict de 
fied. 

Shall he be tried again ? Shall he go free ? 

Who shall the court convene? Where 
shall it be ? 

No answer on the land, none from the sea. 

Only we know that as he did, we must: 

You with your theories, you with your 
trust, 

Ashes to ashes, dust unto dust ! 



LOVE 

A life was mine full of the close concern 
Of many- voiced affairs. The world sped 

fast; 

Behind me, ever rolled a pregnant past. 
A present came equipped with lore to learn. 
Art, science, letters, in their turn, 

Each one allured me with its treasures 

vast; 

And I staked all for wisdom, till at last 
Thou cam'st and taught my soul anew to 

yearn. 
I had not dreamed that I could turn 

away 

From all that men with brush and pen had 
wrought ; 



208 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



But ever since that memorable day 
When to my heart the truth of love was 
brought, 

I have been wholly yielded to its sway, 
And had no room for any other thought. 

SHE GAVE ME A ROSE 
She gave me a rose, 

And I kissed it and pressed it. 
I love her, she knows, 

And my action confessed it. 
She gave me a rose, 

And I kissed it and pressed it. 

Ah, how my heart glows, 

Could I ever have guessed it ? 

It is fair to suppose 

That I might have repressed it : 

She gave me a rose, 

And I kissed it and pressed it. 

'Twas a rhyme in life's prose 
That uplifted and blest it. 

Man's nature, who knows 
Until love comes to test it ? 

She gave me a rose, 

And I kissed it and pressed it. 

DREAM SONG. I 
Long years ago, within a distant clime, 
Ere Love had touched me with his wand 

sublime, 
I dreamed of one to make my life's calm 

May 

The panting passion of a summer's day. 
And ever since, in almost sad suspense, 
I have been waiting with a soul intense 
To greet and take unto myself the beams, 
Of her, my star, the lady of my dreams. 

O Love, still longed and looked for, come 

to me, 

Be thy far home by mountain, vale, or sea. 
My yearning heart may never find its rest 
Until thou liest rapt upon my breast. 
The wind may bring its perfume from the 

south, 
Is it so sweet as breath from my love's 

mouth ? 
Oh, naught that surely is, and naught that 

seems 
May turn me from the lady of my dreams. 



DREAM SONG. II 

Pray, what can dreams avail 
To make love or to mar ? 

The child within the cradle rail 
Lies dreaming of the star. 

But is the star by this beguiled 

To leave its place and seek the child ? 

The poor plucked rose within its glass 
Still dreameth of the bee ; 

But, tho' the lagging moments pass, 
Her Love she may not see. 

If dream of child and flower fail, 

Why should a maiden's dreams prevaiH 



CHRISTMAS IN THE HEART 

The snow lies deep upon the ground, 
And winter's brightness all around 
Decks bravely out the forest sere, 
With jewels of the brave old year. 
The coasting crowd upon the hill 
With some new spirit' seems to thrill; 
And all the temple bells achime 
Ring out the glee of Christmas time. 

In happy homes the brown oak-bough 

Vies with the red-gemmed holly now ; 

And here and there, like pearls, there 

The berries of the mistletoe. 

A sprig upon the chandelier 

Says to the maidens, "Come not here!.'* 

Even the pauper of the earth 

Some kindly gift has cheered to mirth \ 

Within his chamber, dim and cold, 

There sits a grasping miser old. 

He has no thought save one of gain, 

To grind and gather and grasp and drain. 

A peal of bells, a merry shout 

Assail his ear : he gazes out 

Upon a world to him all gray, 

And snarls, " Why, this is Christmas Day ! " 

No, man of ice, for shame, for shame! 
For " Christmas Day " is no mere name. 
No, not for you this ringing cheer, 
This festal season of the year. 
And not for you the chime of bells 
From holy temple rolls and swells. 
In day and deed he has no part 
Who holds not Christmas in his heart .' 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



209 



THE KING IS DEAD 

Aye, lay him in his grave, the old dead 

year! 

His life is lived fulfilled, his destiny. 
Have you for him no sad, regretful tear 
To drop beside the cold, unfollowed bier? 
Can you not pay the tribute of a sigh ? 

Was he not kind to you, this dead old year ? 
Did he not give enough of earthly store ? 
Enough of love, and laughter, and good 

cheer? 
Have not the skies you scanned sometimes 

been clear ? 
How, then, of him who dies, could you ask 

more ? 



It is not well to hate him for the pain 
He brought you, and the sorrows manifold. 
To pardon him these hurts still I am fain; 
For in the panting period of his reign, 
He brought me new wounds, but he healed 
the old. 

One little sigh for thee, my poor, dead 

friend 

One little sigh while my companions sing. 
Thou art so soon forgotten in the end ; 
We cry e'en as thy footsteps downward 

tend: 
" The king is dead ! long live the king ! " 



THEOLOGY 

There is a heaven, forever, day by day, 
The upward longing of my soul doth 

tell me so. 

There is a hell, I'm quite as sure ; for pray, 
If there were not, where would my 
neighbors go ? 



RESIGNATION 

Long had I grieved at what I deemed 

abuse ; 

But now I am as grain within the mill. 
If so be thou must crush me for thy use, 
Grind on, O potent God, and do thy 
will ! 



LOVE'S HUMILITY 

As some rapt gazer on the lowly earth, 
Looks up to radiant planets, ranging 

far, 
So I, whose soul doth know thy wondrous 

worth 
Look longing up to thee as to a star. 

PRECEDENT 

The poor man went to the rich man's 

doors, 

" I come as Lazarus came," he said. 
The rich man turned with humble head, 
" I will send my dogs to lick your sores ! " 

SHE TOLD HER BEADS 

She told her beads with downcast eyes, 

Within the ancient chapel dim ; 

And ever as her fingers slim 
Slipt o'er th' insensate ivories, 
My rapt soul followed, spaniel-wise. 

Ah, many were the beads she wore ; 

But as she told them o'er and o'er, 
They did not number all my sighs. 
My heart was filled with unvoiced cries 

And prayers and pleadings unex 
pressed ; 

But while I burned with Love's unrest, 
She told her beads with downcast eyes. 

LITTLE LUCY LANDMAN 

Oh., the day has set me dreaming 

In a strange, half solemn way 
Of the feelings I experienced 

On another long past day, 
Of the way my heart made music 

When the buds began to blow, 
And o' little Lucy Landman 

Whom I loved long years ago. 

It's in spring, the poet tells us, 

That we turn to thoughts of love, 
And our hearts go out a-wooing 

With the lapwing and the dove. 
But whene'er the soul goes seeking 

Its twin-soul, upon the wing, 
I've a notion, backed by mem'ry, 

That it's love that makes the spring. 



210 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



I have heard a robin singing 

When the boughs were brown and bare, 
And the chilling hand of winter 

Scattered jewels through the air. 
And in spite of dates and seasons, 

It was always spring, I know, 
When I loved Lucy Landman 

In the days of long ago. 

Ah, my little Lucy Landman, 

I remember you as well 
As if 'twere only yesterday 

I strove your thoughts to tell, 
When I tilted back your bonnet, 

Looked into your eyes so true, 
Just to see if you were loving 

Me as I was loving you. 

Ah, my little Lucy Landman 

It is true it was denied 
You should see a fuller summer 

And an autumn by my side. 
But the glance of love's sweet sunlight 

Which your eyes that morning gave 
Has kept spring within mybosom, 

Though you lie within the grave. 



THE KNIGHT 

Our good knight, Ted, girds his broad 
sword on 

(And he wields it well, I ween) ; 
He's on his steed, and away has gone 

To the fight for king and queen. 
What tho' no edge the broadsword hath? 
What tho' the blade be made of lath ? 

'Tis a valiant hand 

That wields the brand, 
So, foeman, clear the path ! 

He prances off at a goodly pace ; 

'Tis a noble steed he rides, 
That bears as well in the speedy race 

As he bears in battle-tides. 
What tho' 'tis but a rocking-chair 
That prances with this stately air ? 

'Tis a warrior bold 

The reins doth hold, 
Who bids all foes beware ! 



LULLABY 

Bedtime's come fu' little boys. 

Po' little lamb. 
Too tiahed out to make a noise, 

Po' little lamb. 

You gwine t' have to-morrer sho* ? 
Yes, you tole me dat befo', 
Don't you fool me, chile, no mo', 

Po' little lamb. 



You been bad de livelong day, 

Po' little lamb. 
Th'owin' stones an' runnin' 'way, 

Po' little lamb. 
My, but you's a-runnin' wil', 
Look jes' lak some po' folks chile ; 
Mam' gwine whup you atter while, 

Po' little lamb. 



Come hyeah ! you mos' tiahed to def, 

Po' little lamb. 
Played yo'se'f clean out o' bref, 

Po' little lamb. 

See dem han's now sich a sight 1 
Would you evah b'lieve dey's white 
Stan' still twell I wash 'em right, 

Po' little lamb. 



Jes' cain't hoi' yo' haid up straight, 

Po' little lamb. 
Hadn't oughter played so late, 

Po' little lamb. 

Mammy do' know whut she'd do, 
Ef de chillun's all lak you ; 
You's a caution now fu' true, 

Po' little lamb. 



Lay yo' haid down in my lap, 

Po' little lamb. 
Y ought to have a right good slap, 

Po' little lamb. 

You been runnin' roun' a heap. 
Shet dem eyes an' don't you peep, 
Dah now, dah now, go to sleep, 

Po' little lamb. 




Po' LITTLE LAMB 




DAT'S MY GAL 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



213 



THOU ART MY LUTE 

Thou art my lute, by thee I sing, 
, My being is attuned to thee. 
Thou settest all my words a-wing, 
And meltest me to melody. 

Thou art my life, by thee I live, 

From thee proceed the joys I know ; 

Sweetheart, thy hand has power to give 
The meed of love the cup of woe. 

Thqu art my love, by thee I lead 
My soul the paths of light along, 

From vale to vale, from mead to mead, 
And home it in the hills of song. 

My song, my soul, my life, my all, 
Why need I pray or make my plea, 

Since my petition cannot fall ; 
For I'm already one with thee ! 



THE PHANTOM KISS 

One night in my room, still and beamless, 
With will and with thought in eclipse, 

I rested in sleep that was dreamless ; 
When softly there fell on my lips 

A touch, as of lips that were pressing 

Mine own with the message of bliss 
A sudden, soft, fleeting caressing, 
A breath like a maiden's first kiss. 



I woke and the scoffer may doubt me 
I peered in surprise through the gloom ; 

But nothing and none were about me, 
And I was alone in my room. 

Perhaps 'twas the wind that caressed me 
And touched me with dew-laden breath ; 

Or, maybe, close-sweeping, there passed 

me 
The low-winging Angel of Death. 

Some sceptic may choose to disdain it, 
Or one feign to read it aright ; 

Or wisdom may seek to explain it 
This mystical kiss in the night. 



But rather let fancy thus clear it : 
That, thinking of me here alone, 

The miles were made naught, and, in 

spirit, 
Thy lips, love, were laid on mine own. 



THE PHOTOGRAPH 

See dis piety ah in my ban' ? 

Dat's my gal ; 
Ain't she purty ? goodness Ian' ! 

Huh name Sal. 
Dat's de very way she be *- 
Kin' o' tickles me to see 
Huh a-smilin' back at me. 

She sont me dis photy graph 

Jes' las' week; 
An' aldough hit made me laugh- 

My black cheek 
Felt somethin' a-runnin' queer; 
Bless yo' soul, it was a tear 
Jes' f 'om wishin' she was here. 

Often when I's all alone 

Layin' here, 
I git t'inkin' 'bout my own 

Sallie dear ; 

How she say dat I's huh beau, 
An' hit tickles me to know 
Dat de gal do love me so. 

Some bright day I's goin' back, 

Fo' de la ! 
An' ez sho' 's my face is black, 

Ax huh pa 

Fu' de blessed little miss 
Who's a-smilin' out o' dis 
Pictyah, lak she wan'ed a kiss I 



COMMUNION 

In the silence of my heart, 

I will spend an hour with thee, 

When my love shall rend apart 
All the veil of mystery : 

All that dim and misty veil 
That shut in between our souls 

When Death cried, " Ho, maiden, hail ! 
And your barque sped on the shoals. 



214 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



On the shoals ? Nay, wrongly said. 

On the breeze of Death that sweeps 
Far from life, thy soul has sped 

Out into unsounded deeps. 

I shall take an hour and come 
Sailing, darling, to thy side. 

Wind nor sea may keep me from 
Soft communings with my bride. 

I shall rest my head on thee 

As I did long days of yore, 
When a calm, untroubled sea 

Rocked thy vessel at the shore. 

I shall take thy hand in mine, 
And live o'er the olden days 

When thy smile to me was wine, 
Golden wine thy word of praise, 

For the carols I had wrought 

In my soul's simplicity ; 
For the petty beads of thought 

Which thine eyes alone could see. 

Ah, those eyes, love-blind, but keen 
For my welfare and my weal ! 

Tho' the grave-door shut between, 
Still their love-lights o'er me steal. 

I can see thee thro' my tears, 
As thro' rain we see the sun. 

What tho' cold and cooling years 
Shall their bitter courses' run, 

I shall see thee still and be 

Thy true lover evermore, 
And thy face shall be to me 

Dear and helpful as before. 

Death may vaunt and Death may boast, 
But we laugh his pow'r to scorn ; 

He is but a slave at most, 

Night that heralds coming morn. 

I shall spend an hour with thee 
Day by day, my little bride. 

True love laughs at mystery, 

Crying, " Doors of Death, fly wide." 



THE GOURD 

In the heavy earth the miner 

Toiled and labored day by day, 
Wrenching from the miser mountain 

Brilliant treasure where it lay. 
And the artist worn and weary 

Wrought with labor manifold 
That the king might drink his nectar 

From a goblet made of gold. 

On the prince's groaning table 

'Mid the silver gleaming bright 
Mirroring the happy faces 

Giving back the flaming light, 
Shine the cups of priceless crystal 

Chased with many a lovely line, 
Glowing now with warmer color, 

Crimsoned by the ruby wine. 

In a valley sweet with sunlight, 

Fertile with the dew and rain, 
Without miner's daily labor, 

Without artist's nightly pain, 
There there grows the cup I drink from, 

Summer's sweetness in it stored, 
And my lips pronounce a blessing 

As they touch an old brown gourd. 

Why, the miracle at Cana 

In the land of Galilee, 
Tho' it puzzles all the scholars, 

Is no longer strange to me. 
For the poorest and the humblest 

Could a priceless wine afford, 
If they'd only dip up water 

With a sunlight-seasoned gourd. 

So a health to my old comrade, 

And a song of praise to sing 
When he rests inviting kisses 

In his place beside the spring. 
Give the king his golden goblets, 

Give the prince his crystal hoard; 
But for me the sparkling water 

From a brown and brimming gourd! 

MARE RUBRUM 

In Life's Red Sea with faith I plant my 

feet, 

And wait the sound of that sustaining 
word 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



215 



Which long ago the men of Israel 

heard, 
yVhen Pharaoh's host behind them, fierce 

and fleet, 
Raged on, consuming with revengeful 

heat. 

Why are the barrier waters still un 
stirred ? 
That struggling faith may die of hope 

deferred ? 
Is God riot sitting in his ancient seat ? 

The billows swirl above my trembling 

limbs, 
And almost chill my anxious heart to 

doubt 
And disbelief, long conquered and 

defied. 

But tho' the music of my hopeful hymns 
Is drowned by curses of the raging 

rout, 

No voice yet bids th' opposing waves 
divide ! 



IN AN ENGLISH GARDEN 

In view of the fact that Mr. Dunbar 
had left a sweetheart in America, and that 
they had become betrothed just before he 
sailed for England, it is not hard to under 
stand why the subtle scents and ancient 
beauties of an old-world garden served 
only to bring him a poignant heart-ache 
and an overpowering longing for home 
and love. 

In this old garden, fair, I walk to-day 
Heart-charmed with all the beauty of 

the scene : 
The rich, luxuriant grasses' cooling 

green, 

The wall's environ, ivy-decked and gray, 
The waving branches with the wind at 

play, 
The slight and tremulous blooms that 

show between, 
Sweet all : and yet my yearning heart 

doth lean 

Towards Love's Egyptian flesh-pots far j 
away. 



Beside the wall, the slim Laburnum 

grows 
And flings its golden flow'rs to every 

breeze. 
But e'en among such soothing sights as 

these, 

I pant and nurse my soul-devouring woes. 
Of all the longings that our hearts wot oi, 
There is no hunger like the want of love ! 

THE CRISIS 

A man of low degree was sore oppressed, 
Fate held him under iron-handed sway, 
And ever, those who saw him thus dis 
tressed 
Would bid him bend his stubborn will 

and pray. 

But he, strong in himself and obdurate, 
Waged, prayerless, on his losing fight 
with Fate. 

Friends gave his proffered hand their 

coldest clasp, 

Or took it not at all ; and Poverty, 
That bruised his body with relentless 

grasp, 
Grinned, taunting, when he struggled 

to be free. 
But though with helpless hands he beat 

the air, 
His need extreme yet found no voice in 

prayer. 

Then he prevailed ; and forthwith snob 
bish Fate, 

Like some whipped cur, came fawning 
at his feet ; 

Those who had scorned forgave and called 

him great 

His friends found out that friendship 
still was sweet. 

But he, once obdurate, now bowed his 
head 

In prayer, and trembling with its import, 
said : 

" Mere human strength may stand ill- 
fortune's frown ; 

So I prevailed, for human strength was 
mine ; 

But from the killing pow'r of great r^ 
nown, 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Naught may protect me save a strength 
divine. 

Help me, O Lord, in this my trembling 
cause ; 

I scorn men's curses, but I dread ap 
plause ! " 

THE CONQUERORS 

THE BLACK TROOPS IN CUBA 

Round the wide earth, from the red field 
your valor has won, 

Blown with the breath of the far-speaking 

gun, 
Goes the word. 

Bravely you spoke through the battle cloud 
heavy and dun. 

Tossed though the speech towards the mist- 
hidden sun, 
The world heard. 

Hell would have shrunk from you seeking 

it fresh from the fray, 
Grim with the dust of the battle, and gray 

From the fight. 

Heaven would have crowned you, with 
crowns not of gold but of 
bay, 

Owning you fit for the light of her day, 
Men of night. 

Far through the cycle of years and of lives 

that shall come, 
There shall speak voices long muffled and 

dumb, 
Out of fear. 
And through the noises of trade and the 

turbulent hum, 

Truth shall rise over the militant drum, 
Loud and clear. 

Then on the cheek of the honester nation 

that grows, 
All for their love of you, not for your 

woes, 

There shall lie 
Tears that shall be to your souls as the dew 

to the rose; 
Afterwards thanks, that the present yet 

knows 
Not to ply ! 



ALEXANDER CRUMMELL DEAD 

Back to the breast of thy mother, 

Child of the earth ! 

E'en her caress cannot smother 

What thou hast done. 

Follow the trail of the westering sun 

Over the earth. 

Thy light and his were as one 

Sun, in thy worth. 

Unto a nation whose sky was as night, 

Camest thou, holily, bearing thy light : 

And the dawn came, 

In it thy fame 

Flashed up in a flame. 



Back to the breast of thy mother 

To rest. 

Long hast thou striven ; 

Dared where the hills by the lightning of 

heaven were riven ; 
Go now, pure shriven. 
Who shall come after thee, out of the clay 
Learned one and leader to show us the 

way? 
Who shall rise up when the world gives 

the test ? 

Think thou no more of this 
Rest! 



WHEN ALL IS DONE 

To any one who viewed the dead face 
of Paul Laurence Dunbar, after the long, 
hard race was done, there could but come 
the memory of this poem, and one could 
not but be grateful to him for having said 
these so plainly and in such a simple way. 

There was no trace of pain upon his 
features, naught that could suggest any 
thing but peace and deep content. Those 
who loved him could not keep back the 
tears because of their loss, but no one who 
saw him at rhe last feared that he was oth 
erwise than gloriously at rest ! He had 
indeed " greeted the dawn," though it was 
near the hour of the setting of an earthly 
winter's sun that he broke the last of his 
prison bars, and freedom found at last. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



217 



When all is done, and my last word is said, 
And ye who loved me murmur, " He is 

dead," 
Let no one weep, for fear that I should 

know, 
And sorrow too that ye should sorrow so. 

When all is done and in the oozing clay, 
Ye lay this cast-off hull of mine away, 
Pray not for me, for, after long despair, 
The quiet of the grave will be a prayer. 

For I have suffered loss and grievous pain, 

The hurts of hatred and the world's dis 
dain, 

And wounds so deep that love, well-tried 
and pure, 

Had not the pow'r to ease them or to cure. 

When all is done, say not my day is o'er, 
And that thro' night I seek a dimmer 

shore : 

Say rather that my morn has just begun, 
I greet the dawn and not a setting sun, 
When all is done. 

THE POET AND THE BABY 

This dainty bit of verse reflects the poet's 
great love for children. What the inspira 
tion of that particular poem may have been, 
it may have referred to almost any of his 
child friendships. One of these was espe 
cially beautiful. A little baby boy of three, 
with snow-white skin and golden curls, 
loved Dunbar devotedly, and the people 
who lived near the poet in Dayton, often 
speak of how on bright days Mr. Dunbar 
would sit on the front steps of his home 
with little David Herr by his side. David 
was only a baby, but he loved " Mr. Paul " 
with an all-absorbing passion and always 
sat as close as he could with one small arm 
about the poet's waist. The sight was one 
never to be forgotten the black man and 
the white poet, sitting for hours side by 
side dumb in their mutual admiration. 

When Mr. Dunbar lay dead, little David, 
only half realizing the great change that 
had come to his friend, came as usual with 
a flower (he Always brought a beautiful 
flower to the poet), which strangely enough, 



was a spotless white lily. A gentleman 
who knew of the friendship existing be 
tween the baby and the dead man, carried 
David into the chamber of Death. 

" I want to div him my Power," said 
the little fellow, and the man stooped low 
until the dimpled fingers placed the white 
lily in the poet's hand. 

How's a man to write a sonnet, can you 

tell, 
How's he going to weave the dim, poetic 

spell,- 

When a-toddling on the floor 
Is the muse he must adore, 
And this muse he loves, not wisely, but 
too well? 

Now, to write a sonnet, every one allows, 
One must always be as quiet as a mouse; 

But to write one seems to me 

Quite superfluous to be, 
When you've got a little sonnet in the 
house. 

Just a dainty little poem, true and fine, 
That is full of love and life in every line, 

Earnest, delicate, and sweet, 

Altogether so complete 
That I wonder what's the use of writing 
mine. 



DISTINCTION 

" I am but clay," the sinner plead, 
Who fed each vain desire. 

" Not only clay," another said, 
" But worse, for thou art mire.* 



THE SUM 

A little dreaming by the way, 
A little toiling day by day ; 
A little pain, a little strife, 
A little joy, and that is life. 

A little short-lived summer's morn, 
When joy seems all so newly born, 
When one day's sky is blue above, 
And one bird sings, and that is 



218 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



A little sickening of the years, 
The tribute of a few hot tears, 
Two folded hands, the failing breath, 
And peace at last, and that is death. 

Just dreaming, loving, dying so, 

The actors in the drama go 

A flitting picture on a wall, 

Love, Death, the themes ; but is that all ? 



SONNET 

ON AN OLD BOOK WITH UNCUT LEAVES 
Emblem of blasted hope and lost desire, 
No finger ever traced thy yellow page 
Save Time's. Thou hast not wrought 

to noble rage 
The hearts thou wouldst have stirred. 

Not any fire 

Save sad flames set to light a funeral pyre 
Dost thou suggest. Nay, impotent in 

age, 
Unsought, thou holdst a corner of the 

stage 
And ceasest even dumbly to aspire. 

How different was the thought of him that 

writ. 
What promised he to love of ease and 

wealth, 
When men should read and kindle at his 

wit. 
But here decay eats up the book by 

stealth, 

While it, like some old maiden, solemnly, 
Hugs its incongruous virginity ! 



A DEATH SONG 

At the time of Mr. Dunbar's death, 
many persons were of the opinion that 
this poem was of very recent date. The 
truth is that it was written as far back as 
1898, while Mr. Dunbar was in Washing 
ton, D. C., and appeared in the Con 
gregation a list in September or October of 
that year. These stanzas were printed in 
almost every newspaper in the country 
when the poet passed away, and the re 
quest embodied in the lines was followed, 



as nearly as possible, in the selection of a 
burial site. 

Lay me down beneaf de willers in de 

grass, 
Whah de branch'll go a-singin' as it 

pass. 

An' w'en I's a-layin' low, 
I kin hyeah it as it go 
Singin', " Sleep, my honey, tek yo' res' at 
las'." 

Lay me nigh to whah hit meks a little 

pool, 
An' de watah Stan's so quiet lak an' 

cool, 

Whah de little birds in spring, 
Ust to come an' drink an' sing, 
An' de chillen waded on dey way to 
school. 

Let me settle w'en my shouldahs draps 

dey load 
Nigh enough to hyeah de noises in ae 

road ; 

Fu' I t'ink de las' long res' 
Gwine to soothe my sperrit bes' 
Ef I's layin' 'mong de t'ings I's allus 
knowed. 



CHRISMUS IS A-COMIN' 

Bones a-gittin' achy, 
Back a-feelin' col', 
Han's a-growin' shaky, 
Jes' lak I was ol'. 
Fros' erpon de meddah 
Lookin' mighty white ; 
Snovvdraps lak a feddah 
Slippin' down at night. 
Jes' keep t'ings a-hummin* 
Spite o' fros' an' showahs, 
Chrismus is a-comin' 
An' all de week is ouahs. 

Little mas' a-axin', 
" Who is Santy Glaus ? " 
Meks it kin' o' taxin' 
Not to brek de laws. 
Chillun's pow'ful tryin* 
To a pusson's grace 
We'n dey go a pry in' 
Right on th'oo you' face 




BENEAF DE WILLERS 




CHRIS'MUS is A-COMIN' 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



221 



Down ermong yo' feelin's ; 
Jes' 'pears lak dat you 
Got to change you' dealin's 
So's to tell 'em true. 



An' my pickaninny 
Dreamin' in his sleep ! 
Come hyeah, Mammy Jinny, 
Come an' tek a peep. 
Ol' Mas' Bob an' Missis 
In dey house up daih 
Got no chile lak dis is, 
D' ain't none anywhaih. 
Sleep, my little lammy. 
Sleep, you little limb, 
He do' know whut mammy 
Done saved up fu' him. 



Dey'll be banjo pickin', 
Dancin' all night thoo. 
Dey'll be lots o' chicken, 
Plenty tukky, too. 
Drams to wet yo' whistles 
So's to drive out chills. 
Whut I keer fu' drizzles 
Fallin' on cle hills ? 
Jes' keep t'ings a-hummin' 
Spite o' col' an' shovvahs, 
Chrismus day's a-comin', 
An' all de week is ouahs. 



ON THE SEA WALL 

I sit upon the old sea wall, 

And watch the shimmering sea, 

Where soft and white the moonbeams 

fall, 
Till, in a fantasy, 

Some pure, white maiden's funeral pall 
The strange light seems to me. 



The waters break upon the shore 

And shiver at my feet, 
While I dream old dreams o'er and o'er, 

And dim old scenes repeat ; 
Tho' all have dreamed the same before, 

They still seem new and sweet. 

13 



The waves still sing the same old song 

That knew an elder time ; 
The breakers' beat is not more strong, 

Their music more sublime ; 
And poets thro' the ages long 

Have set these notes to rhyme. 

But this shall not deter my lyre, 
Nor check my simple strain ; 

If I have not the old-time fire, 
I know the ancient pain : 

The hurt of unfulfilled desire, 
The ember quenched by rain. 

I know the softly shining sea 

That rolls this gentle swell 
Has snarled and licked its tongues at me 

And bared its fangs as well ; 
That 'neath its smile so heavenly, 

There lurks the scowl of hell ! 

But what of that ? I strike my string 
(For songs in youth are sweet) ; 

I'll wait and hear the waters bring 
Their loud resounding beat ; 

Then, in her own bold numbers sing 
The Ocean's dear deceit ! 



TO A LADY PLAYING THE HARP 

Thy tones are silver melted into sound, 

And as I dream 
I see no walls around, 

But seem to hear 

A gondolier 

Sing sweetly down some slow Venetian 
stream. 

Italian skies that I have never seen 

I see above. 
(Ah, play again, my queen ; 

Thy fingers white 

Fly swift and light 

And weave for me the golden mesh of 
love.) 

Oh, thou dusk sorceress of the dusky eyes 

And soft dark hair, 
'Tis thou that mak'st my skies 

So swift to change 

To far and strange ; 

But far and strange, thou still dost make 
them fair. 



222 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Now thou dost sing, and I am lost in thee 

As one who drowns 
In floods of melody. 

Still in thy art 

Give me this part, 

Till perfect love, the love of loving 
crowns. 



CONFESSIONAL 

Search thou my heart ; 

If there be guile, 
It shall depart 

Before thy smile. 

Search thou my soul ; 

Be there deceit, 
Twill vanish whole 

Before thee, sweet. 

Upon my mind 

Turn thy pure lens ; 
Naught shalt thou find 

Thou canst not cleanse. 

If I should pray, 

I scarcely know 
In just what way 

My prayers would go. 

So strong in me 
I feel love's leaven, 

I'd bow to thee 

As soon as Heaven ! 



MISAPPREHENSION 

Out of my heart, one day, I wrote a song, 

"With my heart's blood imbued, 
Instinct with passion, tremulously strong, 
With grief subdued ; 
Breathing a fortitude 

Pain-bought. 
And one who claimed much love for what 

I wrought, 
Read and considered it, 

And spoke : 
* Ay, brother, 'tis well writ, 

But where's the joke ? " 



PROMETHEUS 

Prometheus stole from Heaven the sacred 

fire 
And swept to earth with it o'er land and 

sea. 

He lit the vestal flames of poesy, 
Content, for this, to brave celestial ire. 

Wroth were the gods, and with eternal 

hate 
Pursued the fearless one who ravished 

Heaven 
That earth might hold in fee the perfect 

leaven 
To lift men's souls above their low estate. 

But judge you now, when poets wield the 

pen, 
Think you not well the wrong has been 

repaired ? 
'Twas all in vain that ill Prometheus 

fared : 

The fire has been returned to Heaven 
again ! 

We have no singers like the ones whose 

note 
Gave challenge to the noblest warbler's 

song. 
We have no voice so mellow, sweet, 

and strong 

As that which broke from Shelley's golden 
throat. 

The measure of our songs is our desires : 
We tinkle where old poets used to 

storm. 
We lack their substance tho' we keep 

their form : 

We strum our banjo-strings and call them 
lyres. 



LOVE'S PHASES 

Love hath the wings of the butterfly, 

Oh, clasp him but gently, 
Pausing and dipping and fluttering by 

Inconsequently. 

Stir not his poise with the breath of a sigh; 
Love hath the wings of the butterfly. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



223 



Leve hath the wings of the eagle bold, 

Cling to him strongly 
What if the look of the world be cold, 

And life go wrongly ? 
Rest on his pinions, for broad is their 

fold; 
Love hath the wings of the eagle bold. 

Love hath the voice of the nightingale, 

Hearken his trilling 
List to his song when the moonlight is 
pale, 

Passionate, thrilling. 
Cherish the lay, ere the lilt of it fail ; 
Love hath the voice of the nightingale. 



Love hath the voice of the storm at 

night, 

Wildly defiant. 
Hear him and yield up your soul to his 

might, 

Tenderly pliant. 
None shall regret him who heed him 

aright ; 
Love hath the voice of the storm at night. 



FOR THE MAN WHO FAILS 

The world is a snob, and the man who 

wins 

Is the chap for its money's worth : 
And the lust for success causes half of the 

sins 

That are cursing this brave old earth. 
For it's fine to go up, and the world's ap 
plause 

Is sweet to the mortal ear ; 
But the man who fails in a noble cause 
Is a hero that's no less dear. 



'Tis true enough that the laurel crown 

Twines but for the victor's brow ; 
For many a hero has lain him down 

With naught but the cypress bough. 
There are gallant men in the losing fight, 

And as gallant deeds are done 
As ever graced the captured height 

Or the battle grandly won. 



We sit at life's board with our nerves 

highstrung, 

And we play for the stake of Fame, 
And our odes are sung and our banners 

hung 

For the man who wins the game. 
But I have a song of another kind 

Than breathes in these fame-wrought 

gales, 

An ode to the noble heart and mind 
Of the gallant man who fails ! 

The man who is strong to fight his fight, 

And whose will no front can daunt, 
If the truth be truth and the right be 
right, 

Is the man that the ages want. 
Tho' he fail and die in grim defeat, 

Yet he has not fled the strife, 
And the house of Earth will seem more 
sweet 

For the perfume of his life. 



HARRIET BEECHER STOWE 

She told the story, and the whole world 

wept 
At wrongs and cruelties it had not 

known 
But for this fearless woman's voice 

alone. 
She spoke to consciences that long had 

slept : 
Her message, Freedom's clear reveille, 

swept 
From heedless hovel to complacent 

throne. 
Command and prophecy were in the 

tone 

And from its sheath the sword of jus 
tice leapt. 

Around two peoples swelled a fiery wave, 
But both came forth transfigured from 

the flame. 
Blest be the hand that dared be strong to 

save, 
And blest be she who in our weakness 

came 
Prophet and priestess! At one stroke 

she gave 
A race to freedom and herself to fame. 



22 4 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



VAGRANTS 
Long time ago, we two set out, 

My soul and I. 

I know not why, 
For all our way was dim with doubt. 

I know not where 

We two may fare : 

Though still with every changing weather, 
We wander, groping on together. 

We do not love, we are not friends, 

My soul and I. 

He lives a lie ; 
Untruth lines every way he wends. 

A scoffer he 

Who jeers at me : 

And so, my comrade and my brother, 
We wander on and hate each other. 

Ay, there be taverns and to spare, 

Beside the road ; 

But some strange goad 
Lets me not stop to taste their fare. 

Knew I the goal 

Towards which my soul 
And I made way, hope made life fragrant : 
But no. We wander, aimless, vagrant ! 

A WINTER'S DAY 
Across the hills and down the narrow 

ways, 
And up the valley where the free winds 

sweep, 

The earth is folded in an ermined sleep 
That mocks the melting mirth of myriad 

Mays. 
Departed her disheartening duns and 

grays, 
And all her crusty black is covered 

deep. 
Dark streams are locked in Winter's 

donjon-keep, 

And made to shine with keen, unwonted 
rays. 

O icy mantle, and deceitful snow ! 

What world-old liars in your hearts ye 

are ! 
Are there not still the darkened seam 

and scar 

Beneath the brightness that you fain would 
show? 



Come from the cover with thy blot ana 

blur, 
O reeking Earth, thou whited sepulchre ! 



MY LITTLE MARCH GIRL 

Come to the pane, draw the curtain apart, 
There she is passing, the girl of my heart ; 
See where she walks like a queen in the 

street, 

Weather-defying, calm, placid and sweet. 
Tripping along with impetuous grace, 
Joy of her life beaming out of her face, 
Tresses all truant-like, curl upon curl, 
Wind-blown and rosy, my little March 

girl. 

Hint of the violet's delicate bloom, 
Hint of the rose's pervading perfume ! 
How can the wind help from kissing her 

face, 

Wrapping her round in his stormy em 
brace ? 

But still serenely she laughs at his rout, 
She is the victor who wins in the bout. 
So may life's passions about her soul swirl, 
Leaving it placid, my little March girl. 

What self-possession looks out of her eyes ! 
What are the wild winds, and what are 

the skies, 
Frowning and glooming when, brimming 

with life, 

Cometh the little maid ripe for the strife ? 
Ah ! Wind, and bah ! Wind, what might 

have you now ? 

What can you do with that innocent brow ? 
Blow, Wind, and grow, Wind, and eddy 

and swirl, 
But bring her to me, Wind, my little 

March girl. 



REMEMBERED 

She sang, and I listened the whole song 

thro'. 

(It was sweet, so sweet, the singing.) 
The stars were out and the moon it grew 
From a wee soft glimmer way out in the 

blue 
To a bird thro' the heavens winging. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



225 



She sang, and the song trembled down to 

my breast, 

(It was sweet, so sweet the singing.) 
As a dove just out of its fledgling nest, 
And, putting its wings to the first sweet 

test, 
Flutters homeward so wearily winging. 

She sang and I said to my heart, " That 

song, 

That was sweet, so sweet i' the singing, 
Shall live with us and inspire us long, 
And thou, my heart, shalt be brave and 

strong 
For the sake of those words a-winging. 

The woman died and the song was still. 

(It was sweet, so sweet, the singing.) 
But ever I hear the same low trill, 
Of the song that shakes my heart with a 
thrill, 

And goes forever winging. 



LOVE DESPOILED 

As lone I sat one summer's day, 

With mien dejected, Love came by ; 

His face distraught, his locks astray, 
So slow his gait, so sad his eye, 
I hailed him with a pitying cry : 

" Pray, Love, whit has disturbed thee 
so?" 

Said I, amazed. " Thou seem'st bereft ; 
And see thy quiver hanging low, 

What, not a single arrow left ? 

Pray, who is guilty of this theft ? " 

Poor Love looked in my face and cried : 
" No thief were ever yet so bold 

To rob my quiver at my side. 

But Time, who rules, gave ear to Gold, 
And all my goodly shafts are sold." 



THE LAPSE 

This poem must be done to-day ; 

Then, I'll e'en to it. 
I must not dream my time away, 

I'm sure to rue it. 



The day is rather bright, I know 

The Muse will pardon 
My half-defection, if I go 

Into the garden. 
It must be better working there, 

I'm sure it's sweeter ; 
And something in the balmy air 

May clear my metre. 

[/ the Garden^ 

Ah this is noble, what a sky ! 

What breezes blowing ! 
The very clouds, I know not why, 

Call one to rowing. 
The stream will be a paradise 

To-day, I'll warrant. 
I know the tide that's on the rise 

Will seem a torrent; - 

I know just how the leafy boughs 

Are all a-quiver; 
I know how many skiffs and scows 

Are on the river. 
I think I'll just go out awhile 

Before I write it; 
When Nature shows us such a smile, 

We shouldn't slight it. 
For Nature always makes desire 

By giving pleasure; 
And so 'twill help me put more fire 

Into my measure. 

[ On the River \ 

The river's fine, I'm glad I came, 

That poem's teasing; 
But health is better far than fame, 

Though cheques are pleasing. 
I don't know what I did it for, 

This air's a poppy. 
I'm sorry for my editor, 

He '11 get no copy ! 



THE WARRIOR'S PRAYER 

Long since, in sore distress, I heard one 

pray, 
" Lord, who prevailest with resistless 

might, 

Ever from war and strife keep me away, 
My battles fight ! " 



226 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



I know not if I play the Pharisee, 

And if my brother after all be right ; 
But mine shall be the warrior's plea to 

thee 
Strength for the fight. 

I do not ask that thou shalt front the fray, 
And drive the warring foeman from my 

sight ; 

I only ask, O Lord, by night, by day, 
Strength for the fight ! 

When foes upon me press, let me not 

quail 

Nor think to turn me into coward flight. 
I only ask, to make mine arms prevail, 
Strength for the fight ! 

Still let mine eyes look ever on the foe, 
Still let mine armor case me strong and 

bright ; 
And grant me, as I deal each righteous 

blow, 
Strength for the fight ! 

And when, at eventide, the fray is done, 
My soul to Death's bedchamber do thou 

light, 

And give me, be the field or lost or won, 
Rest from the fight ! 

FAREWELL TO ARCADY 

With sombre mien, the Evening gray 
Comes nagging at the heels of Day, 
An^ driven faster and still faster 
Before the dusky-mantled Master, 
The light fades from her fearful eyes, 
She hastens, stumbles, falls, and dies. 

Beside me Amaryllis weeps ; 
The swelling tears obscure the deeps 
Of her dark eyes, as, mistily, 
The rushing rain conceals the sea. 
Here, lay my tuneless reed away, 
I have no heart to tempt a lay. 

I scent the perfume of the rose 
Which by my crystal fountain grows. 
In this sad time, are roses blowing ? 
And thou, my fountain, art thou flowing, 
While I who watched thy waters spnng 



Am all too sad to smile or sing ? 
Nay, give me back my pipe again, 
It yet shall breathe this single strain : 
Farewell to Arcady ! 



THE VOICE OF THE BANJO 

In a small and lonely cabin out of noisy 

traffic's way, 
Sat an old man, bent and feeble, dusk of 

face, and hair of gray, 
And beside him on the table, battered, 

old, and worn as he, 
Lay a banjo, droning forth this reminiscent 

melody : 

" Night is closing in upon us, friend of 

mine, but don't be sad; 
Let us think of all the pleasures and the 

joys that we have had. 
Let us keep a merry visage, and be happy 

till the last, 
Let the future still be sweetened with the 

honey of the past. 

" For I speak to you of summer nights 

upon the yellow sand, 
When the Southern moon was sailing high 

and silvering all the land ; 
And if love tales were not sacred, there's 

a tale that I could tell 
Of your many nightly wanderings with a 

dusk and lovely belle. 

" And I speak to you of care-free songs 
when labor's hour was o'er, 

And a woman waiting for your step out 
side the cabin door, 

And of something roly-poly that you took 
upon yonr lap, 

While you listened for the stumbling, 
hesitating words, Pap, pap.' 

" I could tell you of a 'possum hunt across 

the wooded grounds, 
I could call to mind the sweetness of the 

baying of the hounds, 
You could lift me up and smelling of the 

timber that's in me, 
Build again a whole green forest with the 

mem'ry of a tree. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



227 



So the future cannot hurt us while we 

keep the past in mind, 
What care I for trembling fingers, what 

care you that you are blind ? 
Time may leave us poor and stranded, 

circumstance may make us bend; 
But they'll only find us mellower, won't 

they, comrade ? in the end." 



THE STIRRUP CUP 

Come, drink a stirrup cup with me, 

Before we close our rouse. 
You're all aglow with wine, I know : 

The master of the house, 

Unmindful of our revelry, 

Has drowned the carking devil care, 

And slumbers in his chair. 

Come, drink a cup before we start ; 
We've far to ride to-night. 

And Death may take the race we make, 
And check our gallant flight : 
But even he must play his part, 
And tho' the look he wears be grim, 
We'll drink a toast to him ! 

For Death, a swift old chap is he, 
And swift the steed he rides. 

He needs no chart o'er main or mart, 
For no direction bides, 
So, come a final cup with me, 
And let the soldiers' chorus swell, 
To hell with care, to hell ! 



A CHOICE 

They please me not these solemn songs 
That hint of sermons covered up. 

'Tis true the world should heed its 

wrongs, 
But in a poem let me sup, 

Not simples brewed to cure or ease 

Humanity's confessed disease, 

But the spirit-wine of a singing line, 
Or a dew-drop in a honey cup ! 



HUMOR AND DIALECT 



THEN AND NOW 

THEN 

He loved her, and through many years. 
Had paid his fair devoted court, 

Until she wearied, and with sneers 
Turned all his ardent love to sport. 

That night with n his chamber lone, 
He long sat writing by his bed 

A note in which his heart made moan 
For love ; the morning found him dead, 

NOW 

Like him, a man of later day 
Was jilted by the maid he sought, 

And from her presence turned away, 
Consumed by burning, bitter thought. 

He sought his room to write a curse 
Like him before and die, I ween. 

Ah, no, he put his woes in verse. 
And sold them to a magazine. 

AT CHESHIRE CHEESE 

When first of wise old Johnson taugnt, 
My youthful mind its homage brought, 
And made the pond'rous, crusty sage 
The object of a noble rage. 

Nor did I think (How dense we are !) 
That any day, however far, 
Would find me holding, unrepelled, 
The place that Doctor Johnson held ! 

But change has come and time has moved, 
And now, applauded, unreproved, 
I hold, with pardonable pride, 
The place that Johnson occupied. 

Conceit ! Presumption ! What is this ? 
You surely read my words amiss ! 
Like Johnson I, a man of mind ! 
How could you ever be so blind ? 

No. At the ancient " Cheshire Cheese," 
Blown hither by some vagrant breeze, 
To dignify my shallow wit, 
In Doctor Johnson's seat I sit ! 



228 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



MY CORN-COB PIPE 

Men may sing of their Havanas, elevating 
to the stars 

The real or fancied virtues of their foreign- 
made cigars ; 

But I worship Nicotina at a different sort 
of shrine, 

And she sits enthroned in glory in this 
corn-cob pipe of mine. 

It's as fragrant as the meadows when the 
clover is in bloom ; 

It's as dainty as the essence of the dainti 
est perfume ; 

It's as sweet as are the orchards when the 
fruit is hanging ripe, 

With the sun's warm kiss upon them is 
this corn-cob pipe. 

Thro' the smoke about it clinging, I de 
light its form to trace, 

Like an oriental beauty with a veil upon 
her face; 

And my room is dim with vapor as a 
church when censers sway, 

As I clasp it to my bosom in a figurative 
way. 

It consoles me in misfortune and it cheers 
me in distress, 

And it proves a warm partaker of my 
pleasures in success ; 

So I hail it as a symbol, friendship's true 
and worthy type, 

And I press my lips devoutly to my corn 
cob pipe. 



IN AUGUST 

When August days are hot an' dry, 
When burning copper is the sky, 
I'd rather fish than feast or fly 
In airy realms serene and high. 

I'd take a suit not made for looks, 

Some easily digested books, 

Some flies, some lines, some bait, some 

hooks, 
Then would I seek the bays and brooks. 



I would eschew mine every task, 
In Nature's smiles my soul should bask, 
And I methinks no more could ask, 
Except perhaps one little flask. 

In case of accident, you know, 

Or should the wind come on to blow, 

Or I be chilled or capsized, so, 

A flask would be the only go. 

Then could I spend a happy time, 

A bit of sport, a bit of rhyme 

(A bit of lemon, or of lime, 

To make my bottle's contents prime). 

When August days are hot an' dry, 
I won't sit by an' sigh or die, 
I'll get my bottle (on the sly) 
And go ahead, and fish, and lie ! 

THE DISTURBER 

Oh, what shall I do ? I am wholly up 
set ; 

I am sure I'll be jailed for a lunatic yet. 

I'll be out of a job it's the thing to ex 
pect 

When I'm letting my duty go by with 
neglect. 

You may judge the extent and degree of 
my plight 

When I'm thinking all day and a-clream- 
ing all night, 

And a-trying my hand at a rhyme on the 
sly, 

All on account of a sparkling eye. 

There are those who say men should be 

strong, well-a-day ! 
But what constitutes strength in a man ? 

Who shall say ? 
I am strong as the most when it comes to 

the arm. 

I have aye held my own on the play 
ground or farm. 
And when I've been tempted, I haven't 

been weak ; 
But now why, I tremble to hear a maid 

speak. 
I used to be bold, but now I've grown 

shy, 
And all on account of a sparkling eye. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



229 



There once was a time when my heart was 

devout, 

But now my religion is open to doubt. 
When parson is earnestly preaching of 

grace, 

My fancy is busy with drawing a face, 
Thro' the back of a bonnet most piously 

plain ; 

" I draw it, redraw it, and draw it again." 
While the songs and the sermon unheeded 

go by, 
All on account of a sparkling eye. 

Oh, dear little conjurer, give o'er your 
wiles, 

It is easy for you, you're all blushes and 
smiles; 

But, love of my heart, I am sorely per 
plexed ; 

I am smiling one minute and sighing the 
next; 

And if it goes on, I'll drop hackle and 
flail, 

And go to the parson and tell him my tale. 

I warrant he'll find me a cure for the sigh 

That you're aye bringing forth with the 
glance of your eye. 

EXPECTATION 

You'll be wonderin' whut's de reason 

I's a grinnin' all de time, 
An' I guess you t'ink my sperits 

Mus' be feelin' mighty prime. 
Well, I 'fess up, I is tickled 

As a puppy at his paws. 
But you needn't think I's crazy, 

I ain' laffin' 'dout a cause. 

You's a wonderin' too, I reckon, 

Why I doesn't seem to eat, 
An' I notice you a lookin' 

Lak you felt completely beat 
When I 'fuse to tek de bacon, 

An' don' settle on de ham. 
Don' you feel no feah erbout me, 

Jes' keep eatin', an' be ca'm. 

Fu' I's waitin' an' I's watchin' 

'Bout a little t'ing I see 
D* othah night I's out a walkin' 

An' I passed a 'simmon tree. 



Now I's whettin' up my hongiy, 

An' I's laffin' fit to kill, 
Fu' de fros' done turned de 'simmons, 

An' de possum's eat his fill. 

He done go'ged hisse'f owdacious, 

An' he stayin' by de tree ! 
Don' you know, ol' Mistah Possum 

Dat you gittin* fat fu' me ? 
'Tain't no use to try to 'spute it, 

'Case I knows you's gittin' sweet 
Wif dat 'simmon flavoh thoo you, 

So I's waitin' fu' yo' meat. 

An' some ebenin' me an' Towsah 

Gwine to come an' mek a call, 
We jes' drap in onexpected 

Fu' to shek yo' han', dat's all. 
Oh, I knows dat you'll be tickled, 

Seem lak I kin see you smile, 
So pu'haps I mought pu'suade you 

Fu' to visit us a while. 



LOVER'S LANE 

Summah night an' sighin' breeze, 

'Long de lovah's lane ; 
Frien'ly, shadder-mekin' trees, 

'Long de lovah's lane. 
White folks' wo'k all done up gran'- 
Me an' 'Mandy han'-in-han' 
Struttin' lak we owned de Ian', 

'Long de lovah's lane. 

Owl a-settin' 'side de road, 

'Long de lovah's lane, 
Lookin' at us lak he knowed 

Dis uz lovah's lane. 
Go on, hoot yo' mou'nful tune, 
You ain' nevah loved in June, 
An' come hidin' fom de moon 

Down in lovah's lane. 

Bush it ben' an' nod an' sway, 

Down in lovah's lane, 
Try'n' to hyeah me whut I say 

'Long de lovah's lane. 
But I whispahs low lak dis, 
An' my 'Mandy smile huh bliss 
Mistah Bush he shek his fis', 

Down in lovah's lane. 



230 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Whut I keer ef day is long, 

Down in lovah's lane. 
I kin allus sing a song 

'Long de lovah's lane. 
An* de wo'ds I hyeah an* say 
Meks up fu' de weary day, 
Wen I's strollin' by de way, 

Down in lovah's lane. 

An' dis t'ought will allus rise 

Down in lovah's lane : 
Wondah whethah in de skies 

Dey's a lovah's lane. 
Ef dey ain't I tell you true, 
'Ligion do look mighty blue, 
'Cause I do' know whut I'd do 

'Dout a lovah's lane. 

PROTEST 

Who say my hea't ain't true to you ? 

Dey bettah heish dey mouf. 
I knows I loves you thoo an' thoo 

In watah time er drouf. 
I wush dese people 'd stop dey talkin', 
Don't mean no mo' dan chicken's 

squawkin* : 
I guess I knows which way I's walkin', 

I knows de norf f om souf. 

I does not love Elizy Brown, 

I guess I knows my min'. 
You allus try to tek me down 

Wid evaht'ing you fin'. 
Ef dese hyeah folks will keep on fillin' 
Yo' haid wid nonsense, an' you's willin' 
I bet some day dey'll be a killm* 

Somewhaih along de line. 

O' cose I buys de gal ice-cream, 

Whut else I gwine to do ? 
I knows jes' how de t'ing 'u'd seem 

Ef I'd be sho't wid you. 
On Sunday, you's at chu'ch a-shoutin' t 

Den all de week you go 'roun* poutin' 

I's mighty tiahed o' all dis doubtin', 

I tell you cause I's true. 

HYMN 

O liT lamb out in de col', 
De Mastah call you to de foP, 
O 1'i'l' lamb! 



He hyeah you bleatin' on de hill ; 
Come hyeah an' keep yo' mou'nin' still, 
OliTlamb! 

De Mastah sen' de Shepud fo'f ; 
He wandah souf, he wandah no'f, 

O li'P lamb ! 

He wandah eas', he wandah wes'; 
De win' a-wrenchin' at his breas', 

O liTlamb! 

Oh, tell de Shepud whaih you hide; 
He want you walkin' by his side, 

O liT lamb ! 

H e know you weak, he know you so' ; 
But come, don' stay away no mo', 

O liT lamb I 

An' afah while de lamb he hyeah 
De Shepud's voice a-callin' cleah 

Sweet liT lamb ! 

He answah f'om de brambles thick, 
" O Shepud, I's a-comin' quick " 

O liT Iambi 

THE REAL QUESTION 

Folks is talkin' 'bout de money, 'bout de 

silvah an' de gold ; 
All de time de season's changin' an' de 

days is gittin' cold. 
An' dey 's wond'rin' 'bout de metals, whethah 

we'll have one er two, 
While de price o' coal is risin' an' dey's two 

months' rent dat's due. 

Some folks says dat gold's de only money 

dat is wuff de name, 
Den de othahs rise an' tell 'em dat dey 

ought to be ashame, 
An' dat silvah is de only thing to save us 

f'om de powah 
Of de gold-bug ragin' 'roun' an' seekin' 

who he may devowah. 

Well, you folks kin keep on shoutin' wif 

yo' gold er silvah cry, 
But I tell you people hams is sceerce an' 

fowls is roostin' high. 
An' hit ain't de so't o' money dat is pes- 

terin' my min', 
But de question I want answehed's how ta 

get at any kin' J 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



231 



JILTED 

Lucy done gone back on me, 

Dat's de way wif life. 
Evaht'ing was movin' free 

T'ought I had my wife. 
D^n some dahky comes along, 
Sings my gal a little song, 
Since den, evaht'ing's gone wrong, 

Evah day dey's strife. 

Didn't answeh me to-day, 

Wen I called huh name, 
Would you t'ink she'd ac' dat way 

Wen I ain't to blame ? 
Dat's de way dese women do, 
Wen dey fin's a fellow true, 
Den dey 'buse him thoo an' thoo; 
Well, hit's all de same. 

Somep'n's wrong erbout my lung, 

An' I's glad hit's so. 
Doctah says 'at I'll die young, 

Well, I wants to go ! 
Whut's de use o' livin' hyeah, 
Wen de gal you loves so deah, 
Goes back on you clean an' cleah - 

I sh'd like to know ? 



THE NEWS 

Whut dat you whisperin' keepin' f 'om me ? 
Don't shut me out 'cause I's ol' an' can't 

see. 
Somep'n's gone wrong dat's a-causin' you 

dread, 
Don't be afeared to tell Whut! mastah 

dead? 

Somebody brung de news early to-day, 
One of de sojers he led, do you say ? 
Didn't he foller whah ol' mastah led ? 
How kin he live w'en his leadah is dead ? 

Let me lay down awhile, dah by his bed ; 
I wants to t'ink, hit ain't cleah in my 

head : _ 

Killed while a-leadin 1 his men into fight, 
Dat's whut you said, ain't it, did I hyeah 

right? 



Mastah, my mastah, dead dah in de fiel'? 
Lif ' me up some, dah, jes' so I kin kneel. 
I was too weak to go wid him, dey said, 
Well, now I'll fin' him so mastah is 
dead. 



Yes, suh, I's comin' ez fas' ez I kin, 
'Twas kin' o' da'k, but hit's lightah agin : 
P'omised yo' pappy I'd allus tek keer 
Of you, yes, mastah, I's follerin' 
hyeah ! 



CHRISMUS ON THE PLANTATION 

It was Chrismus Eve, I mind hit fu' a 
mighty gloomy day 

Bofe de weathah an' de people- not a one 
of us was gay ; 

Cose you'll t'ink dat's mighty funny 'twell 
I try to mek hit cleah, 

Fu' a da'ky's allus happy when de holi 
days is neah. 

But we wasn't, fu' dat mo'nin' mastah'd 
tol' us we mus' go, 

He' been payin' us sence freedom, but he 
couldn't pay no mo' ; 

He wa'n't nevah used to plannin' 'fo' he 
got so po' an* ol', 

So he gwine to give up tryin', an' de home 
stead mus' be sol'. 

I kin see him stan'in* now erpon de step 

ez cleah ez day, 
Wid de win' a-kin' o' fondlin' thoo his haih 

all thin an' gray ; 
An' I 'membah how he trimbled when he 

said, " It's ha'd fu' me, 
Not to mek yo' Chrismus brightah, but I 

'low it wa'n't to be." 

All de women was a cryin', an' de men, 

too, on de sly, 
An' I noticed somep'n shinin' even in ol' 

mastah's eye, 
But we all stood still to listen ez ol' Ben 

come f'om de crowd 
An' spoke up, a-tryin' to steady down his 

voice and mek it loud : 



232 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Look hyeah, Mastah, I's been servin* 

yo' fu' lo ! dese many yeahs, 
An' now, sence we's got freedom an' you's 

kind o' po', hit 'pears 
Dat you want us all to leave you 'cause 

you don't t'ink you can pay. 
Ef my membry hasn't fooled me, seem dat 

whut I hyead you say. 

" Er in othah wo'ds, you wants us to fu'git 

dat you's been kin', 
An' ez soon ez you is he'pless, we's to leave 

you hyeah behin'. 
Well, ef dat's de way dis freedom ac's on 

people, white er black, 
You kin jes' tell Mistah Lincum fu' to tek 

his freedom back. 

" We gwine to wo'k dis ol' plantation fu' 

whatevah we kin git, 
Fu' I know hit did suppo't us, an' de place 

kin do it yit. 
Now de land is yo's, de hands is ouahs, an' 

I reckon we'll be brave, 
An' we'll bah ez much ez you do w'en we 

has to scrape an' save." 

Ol' mastah stood dah trimblin', but a-smilin' 

thoo his teahs, 
An' den hit seemed jes' nachul-like, de 

place fan rung wid cheahs, 
An' soon ez dey was quiet, some one sta'ted 

sof ' an' low : 
Praise God," an' den we all jined in, 

" from whom all blessin's flow ! " 

Well, dey wasn't no use tryin', ouah min's 

was sot to stay, 
An' po' ol' mastah couldn't plead ner baig, 

ner drive us 'way, 
An' all at once, hit seemed to us, de day 

was bright agin, 
So evah one was gay dat night, an' watched 

de Chrismus in. 



FOOLIN' WID DE SEASONS 

Seems lak folks is mighty curus 
In de way dey t'inks an' ac's. 

Dey jes' spen's dey days a-mixin' 
Up de t'ings in almanacs. 



Now, I min' my nex' do' neighbor, 

He's a mighty likely man, 
But he nevah t'inks o' nuffin 

'Ceptin' jes' to plot an' plan. 

All de wintah he was plannin* 

How he'd gethah sassafras 
Jes' ez soon ez evah Springtime 

Put some greenness in de grass. 
An' he 'lowed a little soonah 

He could stan' a coolah breeze 
So's to mek a little money 

F'om de sugah-watah trees. 

In de summah, he'd be waihin' 

Out de linin' of his soul, 
Try'n' to ca'ci'late an' fashion 

How he'd git his wintah coal ; 
An' I b'lieve he got his jedgement 

Jes' so tuckahed out an' thinned 
Dat he t'onght a robin's whistle 

Was de whistle of de wind. 

Why won't folks gin up dey planning 

An' jes' be content to know 
Dat dey's gittin' all dat's fu' dem 

In de days dat come an' go ? 
Why won't folks quit movin' forrard ? 

Ain't hit bettah jes' to stan' 
An' be satisfied wid livin' 

In de season dat's at han' ? 

Hit's enough fu' me to listen 

Wen de birds is singin' 'roun', 
'Dout a-guessin' whut'll happen 

W'en de snow is on de groun'. 
In de Springtime an' de summah, 

I lays sorrer on de she'f ; 
An' I knows ol' Mistah Wintah 

Gwine to hustle fu' hisse'f. 

We been put hyeah fu' a pu'pose, 

But de questun dat has riz 
An' made lots o' people diffah 

Is jes' w.hut dat pu'pose is. 
Now, accordin' to my reas'nin', 

Hyeah's de p'int whaih I's arriv, 
Sence de Lawd put life into us, 

We was put hyeah fu' to live ! 




I LAYS SORRER ON DE SHE'F 




MEK DE SHADDERS ON DE WALL 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



235 



AT CANDLE-LIGHTIN' TIME 

When I come in f 'om de co'n-fiel' aftah 

wo'kin' ha'd all day, 
It's amazin' nice to fin' my suppah all 

erpon de way ; 
An' it's nice to smell de coffee bubblin' 

ovah in de pot, 
An' it's fine to see de meat a-sizzlm* 

teasin'-lak an' hot. 

But when suppah-time is ovah, an* de 

t'ings is cleahed away ; 
Den de happy hours dat foller are de 

sweetes' of de day. 
When my co'ncob pipe is sta'ted, an' de 

smoke is drawin' prime, 
My ole 'ooman says, " I reckon, Ike, it's 

candle lightin' time." 

Den de chillun snuggle up to me, an' all 

commence to call, 
" Oh, say, daddy, now it's time to mek de 

shadders on de wall." 
So I puts my han's togethah- svah daddy 

knows de way, 
An' de chillun snuggle closer roun' ez I 

begin to say : 

"Fus* thing, hyeah come Mistah Rabbit; 

don' you see him wo'k his eahs ? 
Huh, uh ! dis mus' be a donkey, look, 

how innercent he 'pears ! 
Dah's de ole black swan a-swimmin' 

ain't she got a' awful neck ? 
Who's dis feller dat's a-comin'? Why, 

dat's ole dog Tray, I 'spec' ! " 

Dat's de way I run on, tryin' fu' to please 

'em all I can ; 
Den I hollahs, " Now be keerful dis 

hyeah las' 's de buga-man ! " 
An' dey runs an' hides dey faces ; dey 

ain't skeered dey's lettin' on : 
But de play ain't raaly ovah twell dat 

buga-man is gone. 

So I jes' teks up my banjo, an' I plays a 

little chune, 
An' you see dem haids come peepin' out 

to listen .nighty soon. 



Den my wife says, " Sich a pappy fu' to 

give you sich a fright ! 
Jes' you go to baid, an' leave him : say 

yo' prayers an' say good-night." 



ANGELINA 

When de fiddle gits to singin' out a oF 

Vahginny reel, 
An' you 'mence to feel a ticklin' in yo' toe 

an' in yo' heel ; 
Ef you t'ink you got 'uligion an' you 

wants to keep it, too, 
You jes' bettah tek a hint an' git yo'self 

clean out o' view. 
Case de time is mighty temptin' when de 

chune is in de swing, 
Fu' a darky, saint or sinner man, to cut de 

pigeon-wing. 
An' you couldn't he'p f om dancin' ef yo' 

feet was boun' wif twine, 
When Angelina Johnson comes a-swingin' 

down de line. 



Don't you know Miss Angelina? She's 

de da'lin' of de place. 
W'y, dey ain't no high-toned lady wif sich 

mannahs an' sich grace. 
She kin move across de cabin, wif its 

planks all rough an' wo' ; 
Jes' de same's ef she was dancin' on oF 

mistus' ball-room flo'. 
Fact is, you do' see no cabin evaht'ing 

you see look grand, 
An' dat one oF squeaky fiddle soun' to 

you jes' lak a ban' ; 
Cotton britches look lak broadclof an' a 

linsey dress look fine, 
When Angelina Johnson comes a-swingin 1 

down de line. 



Some folks say dat dancin's sinful, an' de 

blessed Lawd, dey say, 
Gwine to purnish us fu' steppin' w'en we 

hyeah de music play. 
But I tell you I don' b'lieve it, fu' de 

Lawd is wise and good, 
An he made de banjo's metal an' he made 

de fiddle's wood, 



2 3 6 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



An' he made de music in dem, so I don' 

quite t'ink he'll keer 
Ef our feet keeps time a little to de 

melodies we hyeah. 
W'y, dey's somep'n' downright holy in de 

way our faces shine, 
When Angelina Johnson comes a-swingin' 

down de line. 

Angelina steps so gentle, Angelina bows 

so low, 
An' she HP huh sku't so dainty dat huh 

shoetop skacely show : 
An' dem teef o 1 huh'n a-shinin', ez she tek 

you by de han' 
Go 'way, people, d'ain't anothah sich a 

lady in de Ian' ! 
When she's movin' thoo de figgers er 

a-dancin' by huhse'f, 
Folks jes' stan' stock-still a-sta'in', an' dey 

mos' nigh hoi's dey bref ; 
An' de young mens, dey's a-sayin', " I's 

gwine mek dat damsel mine," 
When Angelina Johnson comes a-swingin' 

down de line. 



MY SORT O' MAN 

I don't believe in Vistercrats 

An' never did, you see ; 
The plain ol' homelike sorter folks 

Is good enough fur me. 
O' course, I don't desire a man 

To be too tarnal rough, 
But then, I think all folks should know 

When they air nice enough. 

Now there is folks in this here world, 

From peasant up to king, 
Who want to be so awful nice 

They overdo the thing. 
That's jest the thing that makes me sick, 

An' quicker'n a wink 
I set it down that them same folks 

Ain't half so good's you think. 

I like to see a man dress nice, 

In clothes becomin' too; 
I like to see a woman fix 

As women orter to do; 



An 1 boys an' gals I like to see 
Look fresh an' young an' spry, 

We all must have our vanity 
An' pride before we die. 

But I jedge no man by his clothes, 

Nor gentleman nor tramp ; 
The man that wears the finest suit 

May be the biggest scamp, 
An' he whose limbs air clad in rags 

That make a mournful sight, 
In life's great battle may have proved 

A hero in the fight. 

I don't believe in 'ristercrats ; 

I like the honest tan 
That lies upon the heathful cheek 

An' speaks the honest man ; 
I like to grasp the brawny hand 

That labor's lips have kissed, 
For he who has not labored here 

Life's greatest pride has missed : 

The pride to feel that yore own strength 

Has cleaved fur you the way 
To heights to which you were not born, 

But struggled day by day. 
What though the thousands sneer an' scoff, 

An* scorn yore humble birth ? 
Kings are but puppets ; you are king 

By right o' royal worth. 

The man who simply sits an' waits 

Fur good to come along, 
Ain't worth the breath that one would take 

To tell him he is wrong. 
Fur good ain't flowin' round this world 

Fur every fool to sup ; 
You've got to put yore see-ers on, 

An' go an' hunt it up. 

Good goes with honesty, I say, 

To honor an' to bless ; 
To rich an' poor alike it brings 

A wealth o' happiness. 
The 'ristercrats ain't got it all, 

Fur much to their su'prise, 
That's one of earth's most blessed things 

They can't monopolize. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



23? 



POSSUM 

Ef dey's anyt'ing dat riles me 

An' jes' gits me out o' hitch, 
Twell I want to tek my coat off, 

So's to r'ar an' t'ar an' pitch, 
Hit's to see some ign'ant white man 

'Mittin' dat owdacious sin 
Wen he want to cook a possum 

Tekin' off de possum's skin. 

Wy, dey ain't no use in talkin', 

Hit jes' hu'ts me to de hea't 
Fu' to see dem foolish people 

Th'owin' ! way de fines' pa't. 
Wy, dat skin is jes' ez tendah 

An' ez juicy ez kin be ; 
I knows all erbout de critter 

Hide an' haih don't talk to me I 

Possum skin is jes' lak shoat skin ; 

Jes' you swinge an' scrope it down, 
Tek a good sha'p knife an' sco' it, 

Den you bake it good an' brown. 
Huh-uh I honey, you's so happy 

Dat yo' thoughts is 'mos' a sin 
When you's settin' dah a-chawin' 

On dat possum's cracklin' skin. 

White folks t'ink dey know 'bout eatin', 

An' I reckon dat dey do 
Sometimes git a little idee 

Of a middlin' dish er two; 
But dey ain't a t'ing dey knows of 

Dat I reckon cain't be beat 
Wen we set down at de table 

To a unskun possum's meat I 

ON THE ROAD 

I's boun' to see my gal to-night 

Oh, lone de way, my dearie \ 
De moon ain't out, de stars ain't bright 

Oh, lone de way, my dearie I 
Dis hoss o' mine is pow'ful slow, 
But when I does git to yo' do' 
Yo' kiss'll pay me back, an' mo', 

Dough lone de way, my dearie. 

De night is skeery-lak an' still 

Oh, lone de way, my dearie \ 
'Cept fu' dat mou'nful whippo-'will 

Oh, lone de way, my dearie 1 



De way so long wif dis slow pace, 
'T'u'd seem to me lak savin' grace 
Ef you was on a nearer place, 
Fu' lone de way, my dearie. 

I hyeah de hootin' of de owl 
Oh, lone de way, my dearie I 
1 wish dat watch-dog wouldn't howl 

Oh, lone de way, my dearie! 
An' evaht'ing, bofe right an' lef ', 
Seem p'int'ly lak hit put itse'f 
In shape to skeer me half to def 
Oh, lone de way, my dearie ! 

I whistles so's I won't be feared 

Oh, lone de way, my dearie ! 
But anyhow I's kin' o' skeered, 
Fu' lone de way, my dearie. 
De sky been lookin' mighty glum, 
But you kin mek hit lighten some, 
Ef you'll jes' say you's glad I come, 
Dough lone de way, my dearie. 



A BACK-LOG SONG 

De axes has been ringin' in de woods de 

blessid day, 
An' de chips has been a-fallin' fa* an' 

thick ; 
Dey has cut de bigges' hick'ry dat de 

mules kin tote away, 
An' dey's laid hit down and soaked it in 

de crik. 
Den dey tuk hit to de big house an* dey 

piled de wood erroun' 
In de fiahplace f'om asli-flo' to de 

flue, 
While oP Ezry sta'ts de hymn dat evah 

yeah has got to soun' 
When de back-log fus' commence 
a-bu'nin* thoo. 



OP Mastah is a-smilin' on de da'kies f'om 

de hall, 

OP Mistus is a-stannin' in de do', 
An' de young folks, males an' misses, is 

a-tryin', one an' all, 

Fu' to mek us feel hit's Chrismus time 
fu' sho'. 



238 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



An' ouah hea'ts are full of pleasure, fu' we 

know de time is ouahs 
Fa* to dance er do jes' whut we wants 

to do. 
An' dey ain't no ovahseer an' no othah 

kind o' powahs 

Dat kin stop us while dat log is bu'nin' 
thoo. 

Dey's a-wokin' in de qua'tahs a-preparin' 

fu' de feas', 

So de little pigs is feelin' kind o' shy. 
De chickens ain't so trus'ful ez dey was, to 

say de leas', 
An' de wise ol' hens is roostin' mighty 

high. 
You couldn't git a gobblah fu' to look you 

in de face 
I ain't sayin' whut de tu'ky 'spects is 

true; 
But hit's mighty dange'ous trav'lin' fu' de 

critters on de place 

F'om de time dat log commence 
a-bu'nin' thoo. 

Some one's tunin* up his fiddle dah, I 

hyeah a banjo's ring, 
An', bless me, dat's de tootin' of a 

ho'n! 
Now dey'll evah one be runnin' dat has 

got a foot to fling, 
An' dey'll dance an' frolic on f 'om now 

'twell mo'n. 
Plunk de banjo, scrap de fiddle, blow dat 

ho'n yo' level bes', 
Keep yo' min' erpon de chune an' step 

it true. 
Oh, dey ain't no time fu' stoppin' an' dey 

ain't no time fu' res', 
Fu' hit's Chrismus an' de back-log's 
bu'nin' thoo ! 

JEALOUS 

Hyeah come Caesar Higgins, 

Don't he think he's fine? 
Look at dem new riggin's 

Ain't he tryin' to shine ? 
Got a standin' collar 

An* a stovepipe hat, 
I'll jes' bet a dollar 

Some one gin him dat. 



Don't one o' you mention, 

Nothin' 'bout his does, 
Don't pay no attention, 

Er let on you knows 
Dat he's got 'em on him, 

Why, 'I'll mek him sick, 
Jes' go on an' sco'n him, 

My, ain't dis a trick! 

Look hyeah, whut's he doin' 

Lookin' t'othah way ? 
Dat ere move's a new one, 

Some one call him, " Say ! " 
Can't you see no pusson 

Puttin' on you' airs, 
Sakes alive, you's vvuss'n 

Dese hyeah millionaires. 

Needn't git so flighty, 

Case you got dat suit. 
Dem does ain't so mighty, 

Second hand lo boot, 
I's a-tryin' to spite you ! 

Full of jealousy ! 
Look hyeah, man, I'll fight you, 

Don't you fool wid me ! 

PARTED 

De breeze is blowin' 'cross de bay. 

My lady, my lady ; 
De ship hit teks me far away, 

My lady, my lady. 

Ole Mas' done sol' me down de stream ; 
Dey tell me 'tain't so bad's hit seem, 

My lady, my lady. 

O' co'se I knows dat you'll be true, 

My lady, my lady ; 
But den I do' know whut to do, 

My lady, my lady. 

I knowed some day we'd have to pa't, 
But den hit put' nigh breaks my hea't, 

My lady, my lady. 

De day is long, de night is black, 

My lady, my lady ; 
I know you'll wait twell I come back, 

My lady, my lady. 

I'll stan' de ship, I'll stan' de chain, 
But I'll come back, my darlin' Jane, 

My lady, my lady. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



239 



Jes' wait, jes' b'lieve in whut I say, 

My lady, my lady ; 
D'ain't nothin' dat kin keep me 'way, 

My lady, my lady. 
A man's a man, an' love is love ; 
God knows ouah hea'ts, my little dove ; 
He'll he'p us f 'om his th'one above, 

My lady, my lady. 

TEMPTATION 

I done got 'uligion, honey, an' I's happy 
ez a king; 

Evahthing I see erbout me's jes' lak sun 
shine in de spring ; 

An' it seems lak I do' want to do anothah 
blessid thing 

But jes' run an' tell de neighbors, an' to 
shout an' pray an' sing. 

I done shuk my fis' at Satan, an' I's gin 

de worP my back ; 
I do' want no hendrin' causes now a-both- 

'rin' in my track ; 
Fu' I's on my way to glory, an' I feels too 

sho' to miss. 
W'y, dey ain't no use in sinnin' when 

'uligion's sweet ez dis. 

Talk erbout a man backslidin' w'en he's 
on de gospel way ; 

No, suh, I done beat de debbil, an' Temp 
tation's los' de day. 

Gwine to keep my eyes right straight up, 
gwine to shet my eahs, an' see 

Whut ole projick Mistah Satan's gwine to 
try to wuk on me. 

Listen, whut dat soun' I hyeah dah ? 'tain't 

no one commence to sing; 
It's a fiddle ; git erway dah ! don' you 

hyeah dat blessid thing? ' 
W'y, dat's sweet ez drippin' honey, 'cause, 

you knows, I draws de bow, 
An' when music's sho' 'nough music, I's 

de one dat's sho' to know. 

W'y, I's done de double shuffle, twell a 

body couldn't res', 
Jes' a-hyeahin' Sam de fiddlah play dat 

chune his level bes'; 

14 



I could cut a mighty caper, I could gin s 

mighty fling 
Jes' right now, I's mo' dan suttain I could 

cut de pigeon wing. 

Look hyeah, whut's dis I's been sayin' ? 

whut on urf 's tuk holt o' me ? 
Dat ole music come nigh runnin' my 'uligion 

up a tree ! 
Cleah out wif dat dah ole fiddle, don' you 

try dat trick agin ; 
Didn't think I could be tempted, but you 

lak to made me sin ! 



POSSUM TROT 

I've journeyed 'roun' consid'able, a-seein' 

men an' things, 
An' I've learned a little of the sense that 

meetin' people brings ; 
But in spite of all my travelin', an' of all 

I think I know, 
I've got one notion in my head, that I can't 

git to go ; 
An' it is that the folks I meet in any other 

spot 
Ain't half so good as them I knowed back 

home in Possum Trot. 



I know you've never heerd the name, if 

ain't a famous place, 
An' I reckon ef you'd search the map you 

couldn't find a trace 
Of any sich locality as this I've named to 

you; 
But never mind, I know the place, an' I 

love it dearly, too. 
It don't make no pretensions to bein' great 

or fine, 
The circuses don't come that way, they 

ain't no railroad line. 
It ain't no great big city, where the 

schemers plan an" plot, 
But jest a little settlement, this place called 

Possum Trot. 

But don't you think the folks tnat lived in 

that outlandish plae* 
Were ignorant of all tht -:hings that go for 

sense or grace. 



240 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Why, there was Hannah Dyer, you may 

search this teemin' earth 
An' never find a sweeter girl, er one o* 

greater worth ; 
An' Uncle Abner Williams, a-leanin' on 

his staff, 
It seems like I kin hear him talk, an' hear 

his hearty laugh. 
His heart was big an' cheery as a sunny 

acre lot, 
Why, that's the kind o' folks we had down 

there at Possum Trot. 

Good times? Well, now, to suit my 

taste, an' I'm some hard to suit, 
There ain't been no sich pleasure sence, an' 

won't be none to boot, 
With huskin' bees in Harvest time, an' 

dances later on, 
An' singin' school, an' taffy pulls, an' fun 

from night till dawn. 
Revivals come in winter time, baptizin's 

in the spring, 
You'd ought to seen those people shout, 

an' heerd 'em pray an' sing ; 
You'd ought to've heard ole Parson Brown 

a-throwin' gospel shot 
Among the saints an' sinners in the days 

of Possum Trot. 

We live up in the city now, my wife was 

bound to come ; 
I hear aroun' me day by day the endless 

stir an* hum. 
I reckon that it done me good, an' yet it 

done me harm, 
That oil was found so plentiful down there 

on my ole farm. 
We've got a new-styled preacher, our 

church is new-styled, too, 
An' I've come down from what I knowed 

to rent a cushioned pew. 
But often when I'm settin' there, it's fool 
ish, like as not, 
To think of them ol' benches in the church 

at Possum Trot. 

I know that I'm ungrateful, an' sich 

thoughts must be a sin, 
But I find myself a wishin' that the times 

was back agin. 



i With the huskin's an' the frolics, an' the 

joys I used to know, 
When I lived at the settlement, a dozen 

years ago. 
I don't teeJ this way often, I'm scarcely 

ever glum, 
For life has taught me how to take her 

chances as they come. 
But now an' then my mind goes back to 

that ol' buryin' plot, 
That holds the dust of some I loved, down 

there at Possum Trot. 



DELY 

Jes' lak toddy wahms you thoo' 

Sets yo' haid a reelin', 
Meks you ovah good and new, 

Dat's de way Fs feelin'. 
Seems to me hit's summah time, 

Dough hit's wintah reely, 
I's a feelin' jes' dat prime 

An' huh name is Dely. 

Dis hyeah love's a cu'rus thing, 

Changes 'roun' de season, 
Meks you sad or meks you sing, 

'Dout no uvfly reason. 
Sometimes I go mopin' 'roun', 

Den agin I's leapin' ; 
Sperits allus up an' down 

Even when I's sleepin'. 

Fu' de dreams comes to me den, 

An' dey keeps me pitchin', 
Lak de apple dumplin's w'en 

Bilin' in de kitchen. 
Some one sot to do me hahm, 

Tryin' to ovahcome me, 
Ketchin' Dely by de ahm 

So's to tek huh f 'om me. 

Mon, you bettah b'lieve I fights 

(Dough hit's on'y seemin') ; 
I's a hittin' fu' my rights 

Even w'en I's dreamin'. 
But I'd let you have 'em all, 

Give 'em to you freely, 
Good an' bad ones, great an' small, 

So's you leave me Dely. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



241 



Dely got dem meltin' eyes, 

Big an' black an' tendah. 
Dely jes' a lady-size, 

Delikit an' slendah. 
Dely brown ez brown kin be 

An' huh haih is curly; 
Oh, she look so sweet to me,- 

Bless de precious girlie ! 

Dely brown ez brown kin be, 

She ain' no mullatter; 
She pure cullud, don' you see 

Dat's jes' whut's de mattah ? 
Dat's de why I love huh so, 

D' ain't no mix about huh, 
Soon's you see huh face you know 

D' ain't no chanst to doubt huh. 

Folks dey go to chu'ch an' pray 

So's to git a blessin'. 
Oomph, dey belt >h come my way, 

Dey could la'n a lesson. 
Sabbaf day I don' go fu', 

Jes' to see my pigeon ; 
I jes' sets an' looks at huh, 

Dat's enuff 'uligion. 

BREAKING THE CHARM 

Caught Susanner whistlin' ; well, 
It's most nigh too good to tell. 
'Twould 'a' b'en too good to see 
Ef it hadn't b'en fur me, 
Comin' up so soft an' sly 
That she didn' hear me nigh. 
I was pokin' 'round that day, 
An' ez I come down the way, 
First her whistle strikes my ears, 
Then her gingham dress appears ; 
So with soft step up I slips. 
Oh, them dewy, rosy lips ! 
Ripe ez cherries, red an' round, 
Puckered up to make the sound. 
She was lookin' in the spring, 
Whistlin' to beat anything, 
" Kitty Dale " er In the Sweet." 
I was jest so mortal beat 
That I can't quite ricoleck 
What the toon was, but I 'speck 
'Twas some hymn er other, fur 
Hymny things is jest like her. 
Well she went on fur awhile 
With her face all in a smile, 



An' I never moved, but stood 

Stiller'n a piece o' wood 

Wouldn't wink ner wouldn't stir, 

But a-gazin' right at her, 

Tell she turns an' sees me my ! 

Thought at first she'd try to fly. 

But she blushed an' stood her ground. 

Then, a-slyly lookin' round, 

She says : " Did you hear me, Ben ? " 

" Whistlin' woman, crowin' hen," 

Says I, lookin' awful stern. 

Then the red commenced to burn 

In them cheeks o' hern. Why, la ! 

Reddest red you ever saw 

Pineys wa'n't a circumstance. 

You'd 'a' noticed in a glance 

She was pow'rful shamed an' skeart ; 

But she looked so sweet an' peart, 

That a idee struck my head ; 

So I up an' slowly said : 

" Woman whistlin' brings shore harm, 

Jest one thing'll break the charm." 

" And what's that ? " " Oh, my ! " says I, 

" I don't like to tell you." " Why ? " 

Says Susanner. " Well, you see 

It would kinder fall on me." 

Course I knowed that she'd insist, 

So I says : " You must be kissed 

By the man that heard you whistle ; 

Everybody says that this'll 

Break the charm and set you free 

From the threat'nin' penalty." 

She was blushin' fit to kill, 

But she answered, kinder still : 

I don't want to have no harm, 

Please come, Ben, an' break the charm." 

Did I break that charm ? oh, well, 

There's some things I mustn't tell. 

I remember, afterwhile, 

Her a-sayin' with a smile : 

" Oh, you quit, you sassy dunce, 

You jest caught me whistlin' once." 

Ev'ry sence that when I hear 

vSome one whistlin' kinder clear, 

I most break my neck to see 

Ef it's Susy ; but, dear me, 

I jest find I've b'en to chase 

Some blamed boy about the place. 

Dad's b'en noticin' my way, 

An' last night I heerd him say: 

" We must send fur Dr. Glenn, 

Mother; somethin's wrong with Ben 1 " 



242 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



HUNTING SONG 



Tek a cool night, good an' cleah, 
Skiff o' snow upon de groun' ; 
Jes' 'bout fall-time o' de yeah 

Wen de leaves is dry an' brown ; 
Tek a dog an' tek a axe, 

Tek a lantu'n in yo' han', 
Step light whah de switches cracks, 

Fu' dey's huntin' in de Ian'. 
Down thoo de valleys an' ovah de hills, 
Into de woods whah de 'simmon-tree 

grows, 

Wakin' an' skeerin' de po' whippo'wills, 
Huntin' fu' coon an' fu' 'possum we 
goes. 

Blow dat ho'n dah loud an' strong, 

Call de dogs an' da'kies neah ; 
Mek its music cleah an' long, 

So de folks at home kin hyeah. 
Blow it twell de hills an' trees 

Sen's de echoes tumblin' back ; 
Blow it twell de back'ard breeze 
Tells de folks we's on de track. 
Coons is a-ramblin' an' 'possums is out ; 
Look at dat dog ; you could set on his 

tail! 
Watch him now steady, min' what 

you's about, 
Bless me, dat animal's got on de trail ! 

Listen to him ba'kin' now ! 

Dat means bus'ness, sho's you bo'n ; 
Ef he's struck de scent I 'low 

Dat ere 'possum's sholy gone. 
Knowed dat dog fu' fo'teen yeahs, 

An' I nevah seed him fail 
Wen he sot dem flappin' eahs 

An' went off upon a trail. 
Run, Mistah 'Possum, an' run, Mistah 

Coon, 

No place is safe fu' yo' ramblin' to 
night ; 

Mas' gin* de lantu'n an* God gin de moon, 
An' a long hunt gins a good appetite. 

Look hyeah, folks, you hyeah dat 
change ? 

Dat ba'k is sha'per dan de res'. 
Dat ere soun' ain't nothin' strange, 

Dat dog's talked his level bes'. 



Somep'n' 's treed, I know de soun'. 

Dah now, wha'd I tell you ? see ! 
Dat ere dog done run him down ; 

Come hyeah, he'p cut down dis tree, 
Ah, Mistah 'Possum, we got you at las' 
Needn't play daid, laying dah on de 

groun' ; 
Fros' an' de 'simmons has made you grow 

fas', 

Won't he be fine when he's roasted up 
brown ! 



A LETTER 

DEAR Miss LUCY ; I been t'inkin' dat 

I'd write you long fo' dis, 
But dis writin' 's mighty tejous, an' you 

know jes' how it is. 
But I's got a little lesure, so I teks my pen 

in han' 
Fu' to let you know my feelin's since I 

retched dis furrin' Ian'. 
I's right well, I's glad to tell you (dough 

dis climate ain't to blame), 
An' I hopes w'en dese lines reach you, dat 

dey'll fin' yo'se'f de same. 
Cose I'se feelin' kin' o' homesick dat's 

ez nachul ez kin be, 
W'en a feller's mo'n th'ee thousand miles 

across dat awful sea. 
(Don't you let nobidy fool you 'bout de 

ocean bein' gran' ; 
If you want to see de billers, you jes' 

view dem f 'om de Ian'.) 
'Bout de people ? We been t'inkin' dat 

all white folks was alak ; 
But dese Englishmen is diffunt, an' dey's 

curus fu' a fac'. 
Fust, dey's heavier an' redder in dey 

make-up an' dey looks, 
An' dey don't put salt nor pepper in a 

blessed t'ing dey cooks ! 
W'en dey gin you good ol' tu'nips, ca'ots, 

pa'snips, beets, an' sich, 
Ef dey ain't some one to tell you, you 

cain't 'stinguish which is which. 
Wen I 'fought I'se eatin' chicken you 

may b'lieve dis hyeah's a lie 
But de waiter beat me down dat I was 

eatin' rabbit pie. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



243 



An' dey'd t'ink dat you was crazy jes' a 

reg'lar ravin' loon, 
Ef you'd speak erbout a 'possum or a piece 

o' good ol' coon. 

hit's mighty nice, dis trav'lin', an' I's 

kin' o' glad I come. 

But, I reckon, now I's willin' fu' to tek my 
way back home. 

1 done see de Crystal Palace, an' I's 

hyeahd dey string-band play, 
But I hasn't seen no banjos layin' nowhahs 

roun' dis way. 
Jes' gin ol' Jim Bowles a banjo, an' he'd 

not go very fu', 
To' he'd outplayed all dese fiddlers, wif 

dey flourish and dey stir. 
Evahbiddy dat I's met wif has been 

monst'ous kin' an' good ; 
But I t'ink I'd lak it better to be down in 

Jones's wood, 
Where we ust to have sich frolics, Lucy, 

you an' me an' Nelse, 
Dough my appetite 'ud call me, ef dey 

wasn't nuffin else. 
I'd jes' lak to have some sweet-pertaters 

roasted in de skin ; 

I's a-longin' fu' my chittlin's an' my mus 
tard greens ergin ; 
I's a-wishin' fu' some buttermilk, an' co'n 

braid, good an' brown, 
An' a drap o' good ol' bourbon fu' to wash 

my feelin's down ! 
An' I's comin' back to see you jes' as 

ehly as I kin, 
So you better not go spa'kin' wif dat 

wuffless scoun'el Quin ! 
Well, I reckon, I mus' close now ; write 

ez soon's dis reaches you; 
Gi' my love to Sister Mandy an' to Uncle 

Isham, too. 
Tell de folks I sen' 'em howdy ; gin a kiss 

to pap an' mam ; 
Closin' I is, deah Miss Lucy, 

Still Yo' Own True-Lovin* SAM. 



P. S. Ef you cain't mek out dis letter, 

lay it by erpon de she'f, 
An' when I git home, I'll read it, 
darlin', to you my own se'f. 



A CABIN TALE 

THE YOUNG MASTER ASKS FOR A STORl 

Whut you say, dah ? huh, uh ! chile, 

You's enough to dribe me wile. 

Want a sto'y ; jes' hyeah dat ! 

Whah' '11 I git a sto'y at ? 

Di'n' I tell you th'ee las' night? 

Go 'way, honey, you ain't right. 

I got somep'n' else to do, 

'Cides jes' tellin' tales to you. 

Tell you jes' one ? Lem me see 

Whut dat one's a-gwine to be. 

When you's ole, yo membry fails; 

Seems lak I do' know no tales. 

Well, set down dah in dat cheer, 

Keep still ef you wants to hyeah. 

Tek dat chin up off yo' han's, 

Set up nice now. Goodness lan'sl 

Hoi' yo'se'f up lak yo' pa. 

Bet nobidy evah saw 

Him scrunched down lak you was den 

High-tone boys meks high-tone men. 

Once dey was a ole black bah, 
Used to live 'roun' hyeah somewhah 
In a cave. He was so big 
He could ca'y off a pig 
Lak you picks a chicken up, 
Er yo' leetles' bit o' pup. 
An' he had two gread big eyes, 
Jes' erbout a saucer's size. 
Why, dey looked lak balls o' fiah 
Jumpin' 'roun' erpon a wiah 
W'en dat bah was mad ; an' laws ! 
But you ought to seen his paws ! 
Did I see em ? How you 'spec 
I's a-gwine to ricollec' 
Dis hyeah ya'n I's try'n' to spin 
Ef you keeps on puttin' in ? 
You keep still an' don't you cheep 
Less I'll sen' you off to sleep. 
Dis hyeah bah'd go trompin' 'roun' 
Eatin' evahthing he foun' ; 
No one couldn't have a fa'm 
But dat bah Vd do 'em ha'm ; 
And dey couldn't ketch de scamp. 
Anywhah he wan'ed to tramp, 
Dah de scoun'el 'd mek his track, 
Do his du't an' come on back. 
He was sich a sly ole limb, 
Traps was jes' lak fun to him. 



244 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Now, down neah whah Mistah Bah 
Lived, dey was a weasel dah ; 
But dey wasn't fren's a-tall 
Case de weasel was so small. 
An' de bah Vd, jes' fu' sass, 
Tu'n his nose up w'en he'd pass. 
Weasels's small o' cose, but my ! 
Dem air animiles is sly. 
So dis hyeah one says, says he, 
" I'll jes' fix dat bah, you see." 
So he fixes up his plan 
An' hunts up de fa'merman. 
When <de fa'mer see him come, 
He 'mence lookin' mighty glum, 
An' he ketches up a stick ; 
But de weasel speak up quick : 
" Hoi' on, Mistah Fa'mer man, 
I wan' 'splain a little plan. 
Ef you waits, I'll tell you whah 
An' jes' how to ketch oF Bah. 
But I tell you now you mus' 
Gin me one fat chicken fus'." 
Den de man he scratch his haid, 
Las' he say, " I'll mek de trade." 
So de weasel et his hen, 
Smacked his mouf and says, " Well, den, 
Set yo' trap an' bait ternight, 
An' I'll ketch de bah all right." 
Den he ups an' goes to see 
Mistah Bah, an' says, says he : 
' Well, fren' Bah, we ain't been fren's, 
But ternight ha'd feelin' 'en's. 
Ef you ain't too proud to steal, 
We kin git a splendid meal. 
Cose I wouldn't come to you, 
But it mus' be done by two ; 
Hit's a trap, but we kin beat 
All dey tricks an' git de meat." 
" Cose I's wif you," says de bah, 
" Come on, weasel, show me whah." 
Well, dey trots erlong ontwell 
Dat air meat beginned to smell 
In de trap. Den weasel say : 
" Now you put yo' paw dis way 
While I hoi' de spring back so, 
Den you grab de meat an' go." 
Well, de bah he had to grin 
Ez he put his big paw in, 
Den he juked up, but kerbing ! 
Weasel done let go de spring. 
" Dah now," says de weasel, " dah, 
I done cdtched vou. Mistah Bah I " 



O dat bah did sno't and spout, 
Try'n' his bestes' to git out, 
But de weasel say, " Goo'-bye ! 
Weasel small, but weasel sly." 
Den he tu'ned his back an' run 
Tol' de fa'mer whut he done. 
So de fa'mer come down dah, 
Wif a axe and killed de bah. 



Dah now, ain't dat sto'y fine ? 
Run erlong now, nevah min'. 
Want some mo', you rascal, you ? 
No, suh ! no, suh ! dat'll do. 



WHISTLING SAM 

I has hyeahd o' people dancin' an' I's 

hyeahd o' people singin*. 
An* I's been 'roun' lots of othahs dat could 

keep de banjo ringin' 
But of all de whistlin' da'kies dat have 

lived an' died since Ham, 
De whistlin'est I evah seed was ol' Ike 

Bates's Sam. 
In de kitchen er de stable, in de fieF er 

mowin' hay, 
You could hyeah dat boy a-whistlin' pu'ty 

nigh a mile erway, 
Puck'rin' up his ugly features 'twell you 

couldn't see his eyes, 
Den you'd hyeah a soun' lak dis un f om 

dat awful puckah rise : 




When dey had revival meetin' an* de 

Lawd's good grace was flowin' 
On de groun' dat needed wat'rin' whaih de 

seeds of good was growin', 
While de othahs was a-singin' an' a-shoutin' 

right an' lef, 
You could hyeah dat boy a-whistlin' kin* 

o' sof beneaf his bref : 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



245 






At de call fu' colo'ed soldiers, Sam en 
listed 'mong de res' 
Wid de blue o' Gawd's great ahmy wropped 

about his swellin' breas', 
An' he laffed an' whistled loudah in his 

youfful joy an' glee 
Dat de govament would let him he'p to 

mek his people free. 
Daih was lots o' ties to bin* him, pappy, 

mammy, an' his Dinah, 
Dinah, min' you, was his sweethea't, an' 

dey wasn't nary finah ; 
But he lef 'em all, I tell you, lak a king 

he ma'ched away, 
Try'n' his level bes' to whistle, happy, 

solemn, choky, gay: 




ff* 



To de front he went an' bravely fought de 

foe an' kep' his sperrit, 
An' his comerds said his whistle made 'em 

strong when dey could hyeah it. 
When a saber er a bullet cut some frien' 

o' his'n down, 
An* de time 'u'd come to trench him an* 

de boys 'u'd gethah 'roun', 
An' dey couldn't sta't a hymn-tune, mebbe 

none o' dem 'u'd keer, 
Sam 'u'd whistle " Sleep in Jesus," an' he 

knowed de Mastah 'd hyeah. 
In de camp, all sad discouraged, he would 

cheer de hea'ts of all, 
When above de soun' of labor dey could 

hyeah his whistle call : 



mm 



When de cruel wah was ovah an' de boys 

come ma'chin* back, 
Dey was shouts an' cries an' blessin's all 

erlong dey happy track, 
An' de da'kies all was happy; souls an' 

bodies bofe was freed. 
Wky, hit seemed lak de Redeemah mus' 

'a' been on earf indeed. 
Dey was gethahed all one evenin' jes' befo' 

de cabin do', 
When dey hyeahd somebody whistlin' kin' 

o' soP an' sweet an' low. 
Dey couldn't see de whistlah, but de hymn 

was cleah and ca'm, 
An' dey all stood daih a-listenin' ontwell 

Dinah shouted, " Sam ! " 
An' dey seed a little da'ky way off yandah 

thoo de trees 
Wid his face all in a puckah mekin' jes' 

sich soun's ez dese : 






HOW LUCY BACKSLID 

De times is mighty stirrin' 'mong de people 

up ouah way, 
Dey 'sputin' an' dey argyin' an' fussin' 

night an' day ; 
An' all dis monst'ous trouble dat hit meks 

me tiahed to tell 
Is 'bout dat Lucy Jackson dat was sich a 

mighty belle. 

She was de preachah's favored, an' he tol* 

de chu'ch one night 
Dat she traveled thoo de cloud o' sin 

a-bearin' of a light ; 
But, now, I 'low he t'inkin' dat she mils' 

'a' los' huh lamp, 
Case Lucy done backslided an' dey trouble 

in de camp. 



246 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Huh daddy wants to beat huh, but huh 

mammy daihs him to, 
Fu' she lookin' at de question f'om a 

ooman's pint o' view ; 
An' she say dat now she wouldn't have it 

diffent ef she could; 
Dat huh darter only acted jes' lak any 

othah would. 

Cose you know w'en women argy, dey is 

mighty easy led 
By dey hea'ts an' don't go foolin' 'bout de 

reasons of de haid. 
So huh mammy laid de law down (she 

ain' reckernizin' wrong), 
But you got to mek erlowance fu' de cause 

dat go along. 

Now de cause dat made Miss Lucy fu' to 

th'ow huh grace away 
I's afeard won't baih no 'spection w'en hit 

come to jedgement day ; 
Do' de same t'ing been a-wo'kin' evah 

sence de worl' began, 
De ooman disobeyin' fu' to 'tice along a 

man. 

Ef you 'tended de revivals which we held 

de wintah pas', 
You kin rickolec' dat convuts was a-comin' 

thick an' fas'; 
But dey ain't no use in talkin', dey was all 

lef in de lu'ch 
W'en ol' Mis' Jackson's dartah foun' huh 

peace an' tuk de chu'ch. 

Wy, she shouted ovah evah inch of Eben- 

ezah's flo' ; 
Up into de preachah's pulpit an' f om dah 

down to de do' ; 
Den she hugged an' squeezed huh mammy, 

an' she hugged an' kissed huh dad, 
An* she struck out at huh sistah, people 

said, lak she was mad. 

I has 'tended some revivals dat was lively 

in my day, 
An' I's seed folks git 'uligion in mos'evah 

kin' o' way ; 
But I tell you, an' you b'lieve me dat I's 

speakin' true indeed, 
Dat gal tuk huh 'ligion ha'dah dan de 

ha'dest yit I's seed. 



Well, f'om dat, 'twas "Sistah Jackson, 

won't you please do dis er dat ? " 
She urns' allus sta't de singin' w'en dey'd 

pass erroun' de hat, 
An* hit seemed dey wasn't nuffin' in dat 

chu'ch dat could go by 
'Dout sistah Lucy Jackson had a finger in 

de pie. 

But de sayin' mighty trufeful dat hit easiah 

to sail 
W'en de sea is ca'm an' gentle dan to 

weathah out a gale. 
Dat's whut made dis ooman's trouble ; ef 

de sto'm had kep' away, 
She'd 'a' had enough 'uligion fu' to lasted 

out huh day. 

Lucy went wid 'Lishy Davis, but w'en she 

jined chu'ch, you know 
Dah was lots o' little places dat, of cose, 

she couldn't go ; 
An' she had to gin up dancin' an' huh 

singin' an' huh play. 
Now hit's nachul dat sich goin's-on 'u'd 

drive a man away. 

So, w'en Lucy got so solemn, Ike he sta'ted 

fu' to go 
Wid a gal who was a sinnah an' could mek 

a bettah show. 
Lucy jes' went on to meetin' lak she didn't 

keer a rap, 
But my 'sperunce kep' me t'inkin' dah was 

somep'n' gwine to drap. 

Fu' a gal won't let 'uligion er no othah 

so't o' t'ing 
Stop huh w'en she teks a notion dat she 

wants a weddm' ring. 
You kin p'omise huh deblessin's of a happy 

aftah life 
(An' hit's nice to be a angel), but she'd 

ravah be a wife. 

So w'en Christmas come an' mastali gin a 

frolic on de lawn, 
Didn't 'sprise me notde littlest seein' Lucy 

lookin' on. 
An' I seed a wa'nin' lightnin' go a-flashin' 

f'om huh eye 
Jest ez 'Lishy an' his new gal went a-galli- 

vantin' by. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



247 



An' dat Tildy, umph ! she giggled, an' she 
gin huh dress a flirt 

Lak de people she was passin' was ez com 
mon ez de dirt ; 

An* de minit she was dancin', w'y dat gal 
put on mo' aihs 

Dan a cat a-tekin' kittens up a paih o' 
windin' staihs. 

She could 'fo'd to show huh sma'tness, fu' 

she couldn't he'p but know 
Dat wid jes' de present dancahs she was 

ownah of de flo' ; 
But I t'ink she'd kin' o' cooled down ef 

she happened on de sly 
Fu' to noticed dat 'ere lightnin' dat I seed 

in Lucy's eye. 

An' she wouldn't been so 'stonished w'en 

de people gin a shout, 
An' Lucy th'owed huh mantle back an' 

come a-glidin' out. 
Some ahms was dah to tek huh an' she 

fluttahed down de flo' 
Lak a feddah f 'om a bedtick w'en de win' 

commence to blow 

Soon as Tildy see de trouble, she jes' tu'n 

an' toss huh haid, 
But seem lak she los' huh sperrit, all huh 

darin'ness was daid. 
Didn't cut anothah capah nary time de 

blessid night ; 
But de othah one, hit looked lak couldn't 

git enough delight. 

W'en you keeps a colt a-stan'in' in de 

stable all along, 
W'en he do git out hit's nachul he'll be 

pullin' mighty strong. 
Ef you will tie up yo' feelm's, hyeah's de 

bes' advice to tek, 
Look out fu' an awful loosin' w'en de string 

dat hoi's 'em brek. 

Lucy's mammy groaned to see huh, an* 

huh pappy sto'med an' to', 
But she kep' right on a-hol'in' to de centah 

of de flo'. 
So dey went an' ast de pastoh ef he 

couldn't mek huh quit, 
But de tellin' of de sto'y th'owed de 

preachah in a fit. 



Tildy Taylor chewed huh hank'cher twell 

she'd chewed it in a hole, 
All de sinnahs was rejoicin' 'cause a lamb 

hadlef de fol', 
An' de las' I seed o' Lucy, she an' 'Lish 

was side an' side : 
I don't blame de gal fu' dancin', an' I 

couldn't ef I tried. 



Fu' 



ain't 



de men dat wants to ma'y 

a-growin' 'roun' on trees, 
An de gal dat wants to git one sholy has 

to try to please. 
Hit's a ha'd t'ing fu' a ooman fu' to pray 

an' jes' set down, 
An' to sacafice a husban' so's to try to 

gain a crown. 

Now, I don* say she was justified in fol- 

lowin' huh plan ; 
But aldough she los' huh 'ligion, yit she 

sholy got de man. 
Latah on, w'en she issuttain dat de preach- 

ah's made 'em fas' 
She kin jes' go back to chu'ch an* ax fu'- 

giveness fu' de pas' ! 



TO THE ROAD 

Cool is the wind, for the summer is waning, 

Who's for the road ? 

Sun-flecked and soft, where the dead leaves 
are raining, 

Who's for the road ? 
Knapsack and alpenstock press hand and 

shoulder, 

Prick of the brier and roll of the boulder ; 
This be your lot till the season grow older ; 

Who's for the road ? 

Up and away in the hush of the morning, 

Who's for the road ? 
Vagabond he, all conventions a-scorning, 

Who's for the road ? 
Music of warblers-so merrily singing, 
Draughts from the rill from the roadside 

upspringing, 

Nectar of grapes from the vines lowly 
swinging, 

These on the road. 



248 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Now every house is a hut or a hovel, 

Come to the road : 
Mankind and moles in the dark love to 

grovel, 

But to the road. 
Throw off the loads that are bending you 

double ; 

Love is for life, only labor is trouble ; 
Truce to the town, whose best gift is a 

bubble : 
Come to the road ! 



TWO LITTLE BOOTS 

In reading this touching little poem, one 
is constrained to compare it with Eugene 
Field's " Little Boy Blue " the same sen 
timent, the same appeal to the world's 
heart which loves a baby and mourns its 
death but there is a difference. Field 
wrote of a white baby who played with a 
little tin soldier and other toys while 
Dunbar's " two little boots " belonged to 
some black woman's po' little lam'. Both 
are universal, each has its own special ap 
plication, and the stanzas add one more 
argument to Dunbar's burden of proof that 
the negro is " more human than African." 

Two little boots all rough an' wo', 

Two little boots ! 
Laws, I's kissed 'em times befo', 

Dese little boots ! 
Seems de toes a-peepin' thoo 
Dis hyeah hole an' sayin " Boo ! " 
Evah time dey looks at you 

Dese little boots. 

Membah de time he put 'em on, 

Dese little boots ; 
Riz an' called fu' 'em by dawn, 

Dese little boots; 
Den he tromped de livelong day, 
Laffin' in his happy way, 
Evaht'ing he had to say, 

" My little boots ! " 

Kickin' de san' de whole day long, 

Dem little boots ; 
Good de cobblah made 'em strong, 

Dem little boots ! 



Rocks was fu' dat baby's use, 
I 'on had to stan' abuse 
Wen you tu'ned dese champeens loose, 
Dese little boots ! 

Ust to make de ol' cat cry, 

Dese little boots; 
Den you walked it mighty high, 

Proud little boots ! 
Ahms akimbo, stan'in' wide, 
Eyes a-sayin' " Dis is pride ! " 
Den de manny-baby stride ! 

You little boots. 

Somehow, you don' seem so gay, 

Po' little boots, 
Sence yo' ownah went erway, 

Po' little boots ! 

Yo' bright tops don' look so red, 
Dese brass tips is dull an' dead; 
"Goo'-by," whut de baby said; 

Deah little boots ! 



Ain't, you kin' o' sad yo'se'f, 
You little boots? 

Dis is all his mammy's leP, 
Two little boots. 

Sence huh baby gone an' died, 

Heav'n itse'f hit seem to hide 

Des a little bit inside 
Two little boots. 



IN MAY 

Oh, to have you in May, 

To walk with you under the trees, 
Dreaming throughout the day, 

Drinking the wine-like breeze, 

Oh, it were sweet to think 

That May should be ours again, 

Hoping it not, I shrink, 
Out of the sight of men. 

May brings the flowers to bloom, 

It brings the green leaves to the tree, 

And the fatally sweet perfume, 
Of what you once were to me. 




DESE LITTLE BOOTS 




COME ON WALKIN' WID ME, LUCY 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



251 



A SPRING WOOING 

Come on walkin' wid me, Lucy ; 'tain't no 

time to mope erroun' 
Wen de sunshine's shoutin' glory in de 

sky, 
An' de little Johnny-Jump-Ups's jes' 

a-springin' f 'om de groun', 
Den a-lookin' roun' to ax each othah w'y. 
Don' you hyeah dem cows a-mooin' ? 

Dat's dey howdy to de spring ; 
Ain' dey lookin' most oncommon satis 
fied ? 
Hit's enough to mek a body want to spread 

dey mouf an' sing 

Jes' to see de critters all so spa'klin'- 
eyed. 



W'y dat squir'l dat jes' run past us, ef I 

didn' know his tricks, 
I could swaih he'd got 'uligion jes' to 
day; 
An' dem liza'ds slippin' back an' fofe 

ermong de stones an' sticks 
Is a-wigglin' 'cause dey feel so awful gay. 
Oh, I see yo' eyes a-shinin' dough you try 

to mek me b'lieve 
Dat you ain' so monst'ous happy 'cause 

you come ; 
But I tell you dis hyeah weathah meks it 

moughty ha'd to 'ceive 
Ef a body's soul ain' blin' an' deef an' 
dumb. 



Robin whistlin' ovah yandah ez he buil' 

his little nes'; 
Whut you reckon dat he sayin' to his 

mate ? 
He's a sayin' dat he love huh in de wo'ds 

she know de bes', 
An' she lookin' moughty pleased at whut 

he state. 
Now, Miss Lucy, dat ah robin sholy got 

his sheer o' sense, 
An' de hen-bird got huh mothah-wit fu' 

true ; 
So I t'ink ef you'll ixcuse me, fu' I do' 

mean no erfence, 

Dey's a lesson in dem birds fu' me an' 
you. 



I's a-buiPin' o' my cabin, an' I's vines 

erbove de do' 

Fu' to kin' o' gin it sheltah f'om desun; 
Gwine to have a little kitchen wid a reg'lar 

wooden flo', 
An' dey'll be a back verandy w'en hit's 

done. 
I's a-waitin' fu' you, Lucy, tek de 'zample 

o' de birds, 

Dat's a-lovin' an' a-matin' eyahwhaih. 
I cain' tell you dat I loves you in de robin's 

music wo'ds, 

But my cabin's talkin' fu' me ovah 
thaih ! 



JOGGIN' ERLONG 

De da'kest hour, dey allus say, 

Is des' befo' de dawn, 

But it's moughty ha'd a-waitin' 

Were de night goes frownin' on; 

An' it's moughty ha'd a-hopin' 

Wen de clouds is big an' black, 
i An' all de t'ings you's waited fu' 
: Has failed, er gone to wrack 

But des' keep on ajoggin' wid a little bit 
o' song, 

De mo'n is allus brightah w'en de night's 
been long. 

Dey's lots o' knocks you's got to tek 

Befo' yo' journey's done, 

An' dey's times w'en you'll be wishin' 

Dat de weary race was run ; 

Wen you want to give up tryin' 

An' des' float erpon de wave, 

Wen you don't feel no mo' sorrer 

Ez you t'ink erbout de grave 

Den, des' keep on a-joggin' wid a little 

bit o' song, 
De mo'n is allus brightah w'en de night's 

been long. 

De whup-lash sting a good deal mo' 
De back hit's knowed befo', 
An' de burden's allus heavies' 
Whaih hits weights has made a so' ; 
Dey is times w'en tribulation 
Seems to git de uppah han' 
An' to whip de weary trav'lah 



252 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



'Twell he ain't got stren'th to stan' 
But des' keep on a-joggin' wid a little bit 

o' song, 
De mo'n is allus brightah w'en de night's 

been long. 

DREAMS 

What dreams we have and how they fly 
Like rosy clouds across the sky ; 
Of wealth, of fame, of sure success, 
Of love that conies to cheer and bless; 
And how they wither, how they fade, 
The waning wealth, the jilting jade 
The fame that for a moment gleams, 
Then flies forever, dreams, ah 
dreams ! 

O burning doubt and long regret, 

tears with which our eyes are wet, 
Heart-throbs, heart-aches, the glut of 

pain, 

The sombre cloud, the bitter rain, 
You were not of those dreams ah ! well, 
Your full fruition who can tell ? 

Wealth, fame, and love, ah ! love that 

beams 

Upon our souls, all dreams ah! 
dreams. 

THE TRYST 

De night creep down erlong de Ian', 

De shadders rise an' shake, 
De frog is sta'tin' up his ban', 

De cricket is awake ; 
My wo'k is mos' nigh done, Celes', 

To-night I won't be late, 
I's hu'yin' thoo my level bes', 

Wait fu' me by de gate. 

De mockin'-bird '11 sen' his glee 
A-thrillin' thoo and thoo, 

1 know dat oP magnolia-tree 

Is smellin' des' fu' you ; 
De jessamine ersicle de road 

Is bloomin' rich an' white, 
My hea't's a-th'obbin' 'cause it knowed 

You'd wait fu' me to-night. 

Hit's lonesome, ain't it, stan'in' thaih 
Wid no one nigh to talk ? 



But ain't dey whispahs in de aih 

Erlong de gyahden walk ? 
Don't somep'n' kin' o' call my name, 

An' say " he love you bes' " ? 
Hit's true, I wants to say de same, 

So wait fu' me, Celes'. 

Sing somep'n' fu' to pass de time, 

Outsing de mockin'-bird, 
You got de music an' de rhyme, 

You beat him wid de word. 
I's comin' now, my wo'k is done, 

De hour has come fu' res', 
I wants to fly, but only run 

Wait fu' me, deah Celes'. 

A PLEA 

Treat me nice, Miss Mandy Jane, 

Treat me nice. 
Dough my love has tu'ned my brain, 

Treat me nice. 

I ain't done a t'ing to shame, 
Lovahs all ac's jes' de same : 
Don't you know we ain't to blame? 

Treat me nice ! 

Cose I know I's talkin' wild; 

Treat me nice ; 
I cain't talk no bettah, child, 

Treat me nice; 
Whut a pusson gwine to do, 
W'en he come a-cou'tin' you 
All a-trimblin' thoo and thoo? 

Please be nice. 

Reckon I mus' go de paf 

Othahs do : 
Lovahs lingah, ladies laff ; 

Mebbe you 

Do' mean all the things you say, 
An' pu'haps some latah day 
W'en I baig you ha'd, you may 

Treat me nice ! 

THE DOVE 

Out of the sunshine and out of the heat, 

Out of the dust of the grimy street, 

A song fluttered down in the form of i 

dove, 
And it bore me a message, the one word - 

Love! 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



253 



Ah, I was toiling, and oh, I was sad : 
I had forgotten the way to be glad. 
Now, smiles for my sadness and for my 

toil, rest 
Since the dove fluttered down to its home 

in my breast ! 



A WARM DAY IN WINTER 

" Sunshine on de medders, 

Greenness on de way ; 
Dat's de blessed reason 

I sing all de day." 
Look hyeah ! Whut you axin' ? 

Whut meks me so merry ? 
'Spect to see me sighin' 

W'en hit's wa'm in Febawary ? 



'Long de stake an' rider 

Seen a robin set; 
W'y, hit 'mence a-thawin', 

Groun' is monst'ous wet. 
Den you stan' dah wond'rin', 

Lookin' skeert an' stary ; 
I's a right to caper 

W'en hit's wa'm in Febawary. 



Missis gone a-drivin', 

Mastah gone to shoot ; 
Ev'ry da'ky lazin' 

In de sun to boot. 
Qua'tah's moughty pleasant, 

Hangin' 'roun' my Mary; 
Cou'tin' boun' to prospah 

W'en hit's wa'm in Febawary. 



Cidah look so pu'ty 

Po'in' f'om de jug 
Don' you see it's happy ? 

Hyeah it laffin' glug ? 
Now's de time fu' people 

Fu' to try an' bury 
All dey grief an' sorrer, 

W'en hit's wa'm in Febawary. 



SNOWIN' 



Dey is snow upon de meddahs, dey is 

snow upon de hill, 
An' de little branch's watahs is all glis- 

tenin' an' still ; 
De win' goes roun' de cabin lak a sperrit 



wan erin 'roun 



An' de chillen shakes an' shivahs as dey 

listen to de soun'. 
Dey is hick'ry in de fiahplace, whah de 

blaze is risin' high, 
But de heat it meks ain't wa'min' up de 

gray clouds in de sky. 
Now an' den I des peep outside, den I 

hurries to de do', 
Lawd a mussy on my body, how I wish it 

wouldn't snow ! 

I kin stan' de hottes' summah, I kin stan' 

de wettes' fall, 
I kin stan' de chilly springtime in de 

ploughland, but dat's all ; 
Fu' de ve'y hottes' fiah nevah tells my 

skin a t'ing, 
W'en de snow commence a-flyin', an' de 

win' begin to sing. 
Dey is plenty wood erroun' us, an' I chop 

an' tote it in, 
But de t'oughts dat I's a t'inkin' while I's 

wo'kin' is a sin. 
I kin keep f om downright swahin' all de 

time I's on de go, 
But my hea't is full o' cuss-wo'ds w'en I's 

trampin' thoo de snow. 

What you say, you Lishy Davis, dat you 

see a possum's tracks? 
Look hyeah, boy, you stop yo' foolin', 

bring ol' Spot, an' bring de ax. 
Is I col' ? Go way, now, Mandy, what you 

t'ink I's made of? sho, 
W'y dis win' is des ez gentle, an' dis ain't 

no kin' o' snow. 
Dis hyeah weathah's des ez healthy ez de 

wa'mest summah days. 
All you chillen step up lively, pile on wood 

an' keep a blaze. 
What's de use o' gittin' skeery case dey's 

snow upon de groun' ? 
Huh-uh, I's a reg'lar snowbird ef dey's 

any possum 'roun'. 



254 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Go on, Spot, don' be so foolish ; don' you 

see de signs o' feet. 
What you howlin' fu' ? Keep still, suh, 

cose de col' is putty sweet ; 
But we goin' out on bus'ness, an' hit's 

bus'ness o' de kin' 
Dat mus' put a dog an' dahky in a happy 

frame o' min'. 
Yes, you's col' ; I know it, Spotty, but you 

des stay close to me, 
An' I'll mek you hot ez cotton w'en we 

strikes de happy tree. 
No, I don' lak wintah weathah, an' I'd 

wush 't uz allus June, 
Et it wasn't fu' de trackin' o' de possum 

an' de coon. 

KEEP A SONG UP ON DE WAY 

Mr. Dunbar was not one of those who 
do not "practice what they preach." 
Through all his troubles and trials, 
through all his ill health and consequent 
suffering he was always noted for his 
cheerfulness, his love of fun, and his op 
timism. Indeed his very presence de 
noted that he was trying, at least, to 
" Keep a Song Up on de Way." 

Oh, de clouds is mighty heavy 
An' de rain is mighty thick; 

Keep a song up on de way. 
An' de waters is a rumblin' 
On de boulders in de crick, 

Keep a song up on de way. 
Fu' a bird ercross de road 
Is a-singin' lak he knowed 
Dat we people didn't daih 
Fu' to try de rainy aih 

Wid a song up on de way. 

What's de use o' gittin' mopy, 
Case de weather ain' de bes' ! 

Keep a song up on de way. 
W'en de rain is fallin' ha'des', 
Dey's de longes' time to res' ; 

Keep a song up on de way. 
Dough de plough's a-stan'in' still 
Dey'll be watah fu' de mill, 
Rain mus' come ez well ez sun 
To' de weathah 's wo'k is done, 

Keep a song up on de way. 



W'y hit's nice to hyeah de showahs 
Fallin' down ermong de trees : 

Keep a song up on de way. 
Ef de birds don' bothah 'bout it, 
But go singin' lak dey please, 

Keep a song up on de way. 
You don' s'pose I's gwine to see 
Dem ah fowls do mo' dan me ? 
No, suh, I'll des chase dis frown, 
An' aldough de rain fall down, 

Keep a song up on de way. 

THE TURNING OF THE BABIES 
IN THE BED 

Woman's sho* a cur'ous critter, an' dey 

ain't no doubtin' dat. 
She's a mess o' funny capahs fom huh 

slippahs to huh hat. 
Ef you tries to un'erstan' huh, an' you fails, 

des' up an' say : 
" D' ain't a bit o' use to try to un'erstan' a 

woman's way." 

I don* mean to be complainin', but I's jes' 

a-settin' down 
Some o' my own obserwations, w'en I cas* 

my eye eroun'. 
Ef you ax me fu' to prove it, I ken do it 

mighty fine," 
Fu' dey ain't no bettah 'zample den dis 

ve'y wife o' mine. 

In de ve'y hea't o' midnight, w'en I's 

sleepin' good an' soun', 
I kin hyeah a so't o' rustlin' an' somebody 

movin' 'roun'. 
An' I say, " Lize, whut you doin' ? " But 

she frown an' shek huh haid, 
" Heish yo' mouf, I's only tu'nin' of de 

chillun in de bed. 

" Don' you know a chile gits restless, layin* 

all de night one way ? 
An' you' got to kind o' 'range him sev'al 

times befo' de day? 
So de little necks won't worry, an' de little 

backs won't break ; 
Don' you t'ink case chillun's chillun dey 

hain't got no pain an' ache." 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



255 



So she shakes 'em, an' she twists 'em, an' 

she tu'ns 'em 'roun' erbout, 
'Twell I don' see how de chillun evah 

keeps fom hollahin' out. 
Den she lifs 'em up head down'ards, so's 

dey won't git livah-grown, 
But dey snoozes des' ez peaceful ez a liza'd 

on a stone. 

Wen hit's mos' nigh time fu' wakin' on 

de dawn o' jedgment day, 
Seems lak I kin hyeah ol' Gab'iel lay his 

trumpet down an' say, 
" Who dat walkin' 'roun' so easy, down on 

earf ermong de dead ? " 
'Twill be Lizy up a-tu'nin' of de chillun 

in de bed. 



THE DANCE 

Heel and toe, heel and toe, 

That is the song we sing; 
Turn to your partner and curtsey low, 

Balance and forward and swing. 
Corners are draughty and meadows are 

white, 
This is the game for a winter's night. 

Hands around, hands around, 

Trip it, and not too slow ; 
Clear is the fiddle and sweet its sound, 

Keep the girls' cheeks aglow. 
Still let your movements be dainty and 

light, 
This is the game for a winter's night. 

Back to back, back to back, 

Turn to your place again ; 
Never let lightness nor nimbleness lack, 

Either in maidens or men. 
Time hasteth ever, beware of its flight, 
Oh, what a game for a winter's night ! 

Slower now, slower now, 

Softer the music sighs; 
Look, there are beads on your partner's 
brow 

Though there be light in her eyes. 
Lead her away and her grace requite, 
So goes the game on a winter's night. 



SOLILOQUY OF A TURKEY 

Dey's a so't o' threatenin' feelin' in de 

blowin* of de breeze, 
An' I's feelin' kin' o' squeamish in de 

night ; 
I's a-walkin' 'roun' a-lookin' at de diffunt 

style o' trees, 
An' a-measurin' dey thickness an' dey 

height. 
Fu' dey's somep'n' mighty 'spicious in de 

looks de da'kies give, 
Ez dey pass me an' my fambly on de 

groun', 
So it 'curs to me dat lakly, ef I caihs to try 

an' live, 

It concehns me fu' to 'mence to look 
erroun'. 



Dey's a cu'ious kin' o' shivah runnin' up 

an' down my back, 

An' I feel my feddahs rufflin' all de day, 
An' my laigs commence to trimble evah 

blessid step I mek; 

Wen I sees a ax, I tu'ns my head away. 
Folks is go'gin' me wid goodies, an' dey's 

treatin' me wid caih, 
An' I's fat in spite of all dat I kin do. 
I's mistrus'ful of de kin'ness dat's erroun' 

me evahwhaih, 

Fu' it's jes' too good, an' frequent, to be 
true. 

Snow's a-fallin' on de medders, all erroun' 

me now is white, 
But I's still kep' on a-roostin' on de 

fence ; 
Isham comes an' feels my breas'bone, an* 

he hefted me las' night, 
An' he's gone erroun' a-grinnin' evah 

sence. 
'Tain't de snow dat meks me shivah ; 

'tain't de col' dat meks me shake ; 
'Tain't de wintah-time itse'f dat's 'fectin' 

me ; 
But I t'ink de time is comin', an' I'd bet- 

tah mek a break, 
Fu' to set wid Mistah Possum in his tree. 

Wen you hyeah de da'kies singin', an' de 
quahtahs all is gav 



256 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



'Tain't de time fu' birds lak me to be 

erroun' ; 
Wen de hick'ry chips is flyin', an' de log's 

been ca'ied erway, 
Den hit's dang'ous to be roostin* nigh de 

groun'. 
Grin on, Isham ! Sing on, da'kies ! But 

I flop my wings an' go 
Fu' de sheltah of de ve'y highest tree, 
Fu' dey's too much close ertention an' 

dey's too much fallin' snow 
An' it's too nigh Chris'mus mo'nin' now 
fu' me. 



THE VALSE 

When to sweet music my lady is dancing 
My heart to mild frenzy her beauty 

inspires. 
Into my face are her brown eyes a-glanc- 

ing 
And swift my whole frame thrills with 

tremulous fires. 
Dance, lady, dance, for the moments are 

fleeting, 

Pause not to place yon refractory curl ; 
Life is for love and the night is for sweet 
ing; 
Dreamily, joyously, circle and whirl. 

Oh, how those viols are throbbing and 

pleading ; 
A prayer is scarce needed in sound of 

their strain. 

Surely and lightly as round you are speed 
ing, 
You turn to confusion my heart and my 

brain. 

Dance, lady, dance to the viol's soft call 
ing. 

Skip it and trip it as light as the air ; 
Dance, for the moments like rose leaves 

are falling, 

Strikes, now, the clock from its place on 
the stair. 

Now sinks the melody lower and lower, 
The weary musicians scarce seeming to 

play. 
Ah, love, your steps now are slower and 

slower. 



The smile on your face is more sad and 

less gay. 
Dance, lady, dance to the brink of our 

parting, 
My heart and your step must not fail to 

be light. 
Dance ! Just a turn tho' the tear-drop be 

starting. 

Ah now it is done so my lady, good 
night ! 



A PLANTATION PORTRAIT 

Hain't you see my Mandy Lou, 

Is it true ? 
Whaih you been Tom day to day, 

Whaih, I say ? 
Dat you say you nevah seen 

Dis hyeah queen 
Walkin' roun' Pom fiel' to street 

Smilin' sweet ? 

Slendah ez a saplin' tree ; 

Seems to me 
Wen de win' blow f om de bay 

She jes' sway 
Lak de reg'lar saplin' do 

Ef hit's grew 
Straight an' graceful, 'dout a limb, 

Sweet an' slim. 

Browner den de frush's wing, 

An' she sing 
Lak he mek his wa'ble ring 

In de spring ; 
But she sholy beat de frush, 

Hyeah me, hush : 
Wen she sing, huh teef kin show 

White ez snow. 

Eyes ez big an' roun' an' bright 

Ez de light 
Whut de moon gives in de prime 

Harvest time. 
An' huh haih a woolly skein, 

Black an' plain. 
Hoi's you wid a natchul twis' 

Close to bliss. 

f endah han's dat mek yo' own 
Feel lak stone j 




MY MANDY Lou 




BRING DAT BASKET, NIGHAH 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



259 



Easy steppin', blessid feet, 

Small an' sweet. 
Hain't you seen my Mandy Lou, 

Is it true ? 
Look at huh befo' she's gone, 

Den pass on i 

THE VISITOR 

Little lady at de do', 

W'y you stan' dey knockin' ? 
Nevah seen you ac' befo' 
In er way so shockin'. 

Don' you know de sin it is 
Fu' to git my temper riz 
Wen I's got de rheumatiz 
An' my jints is lockin' ? 

No, ol' Miss ain't sont you down, 

Don' you tell no story ; 
I been seed you hangin' 'roun' 
Dis hyeah te'itory. 

You des come fu' me to tell 
You a tale, an' I ain' well 
Look hyeah, what is dat I smell ? 
Steamin' victuals? Glory! 

Come in, Missy, how you do? 

Come up j by de fiah, 
I was jokin', chile, wid you ; 
Bring dat basket nighah. 

Huh uh, ain' dat lak ol' Miss, 
Sen'in' me a feas' lak dis? 
Rheumatiz cain't stop my bliss, 
Case I's feelin' spryah. 

Chicken meat an' gravy, too, 

Hot an' still a-heatin' ; 
Good ol' sweet pertater stew ; 
Missy b'lieves in treatin'. 

Des set down, you blessed chile, 
Daddy got to t'ink a while, 
Den a story mek you smile 
Wen he git thoo eatin'. 

FISHING 

Wen I git up in de mo'nin' an* de clouds 

is big an' black, 
Dey's a kin' o' wa'nin' shivah goes 

a-scootin' down my back ; 
15 



Den I says to my ol' ooman ez I watches 

down de lane, 
" Don't you so't o' reckon, Lizy, dat we 

gwine to have some rain ? " 



"Go on, man," my Lizy answah, "you 

cain't fool me, not a bit, 
I don't see no rain a-comin', ef you's 

wishin' fu' it, quit; 
Case de mo' you t'ink erbout it, an' de 

mo' you pray an' wish, 
Wy de rain stay 'way de longah, spechul 

ef you wants to fish." 

But I see huh pat de skillet, an' I see huh 

cas' huh eye 
Wid a kin' o' anxious motion to'ds de 

da'kness in de sky ; 
An' I knows whut she's a-t'inkin', dough 

she tries so ha'd to hide. 
She's a-sayin', " Wouldn't catfish now tas'e 

monst'ous bully, fried ? " 

Den de clouds git black an' blackah, an* 

de thundah 'mence to roll, 
An' de rain, it 'mence a-fallin'. . Oh, I's 

happy, bless my soul ! 
Ez I look at dat ol' skillet, an' I 'magine I 

kin see 
Jes' a slew o' new-ketched catfish sizzlin' 

daih fu' huh an' me. 

'Tain't no use to go a-ploughin', fu' de 

groun' '11 be too wet, 
So I puts out fu' de big house at a moughty 

pace, you bet, 
An' ol' mastah say, " Well, Lishy, ef ybu 

t'ink hit's gwine to rain, 
Go on fishin', hit's de weathah, an' I 'low 

we cain't complain." 

Talk erbout a dahky walkin' wid his haid 

up in de aih ! 
Have to feel mine evah minute to be sho' 

I got it daih ; 
En' de win' is cuttin* capahs an' a-lashin* 

thoo de trees, 
But de rain keeps on a-singin' blessed 

songs, lak " Tek yo' ease." 



260 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Wid my pole erpon my shouldah an' my 

wo'm can in my ban', 
I kin feel de fish a-waitin' w'en I strikes 

de rivah's san' ; 
Nevah min', you ho'ny scoun'els, needn' 

swim erroun' an' grin, 
I'll be grinnin' in a minute w'en I 'mence 

to haul you in. 

Wen de fish begin to nibble, an' de co'k 

begin to jump, 
I's erfeahed dat dey'll quit bitin', case dey 

hyeah my hea't go " thump," 
'Twell de co'k go way down undah, an' I 

raise a awful shout, 
Ez a big oP yallah belly comes a galli- 

vantin' out. 

Needn't wriggle, Mistah Catfish, case I 

got you jes' de same, 
You been eatin', I'll be eatin', an' we 

needah ain't to blame. 
But you needn't feel so lonesome fu' I's 

th'owin' out to see 
Ef dey ain't some of yo' comrades fu' to 

keep you company. 

Spo't, dis fishin' ! now you talkin', w'y dey 

ain't no kin' to beat ; 
I don' keer ef I is soakin', laigs, an' back, 

an' naik, an' feet, 
It's de spo't I's lookin' aftah. Hit's de 

pleasure an' de fun, 
Dough I knows dat Lizy's waitin' wid de 

skillet w'en I's done. 



RESPONSE 

When Phyllis sighs and from her eyes 
The light dies out ; my soul replies 
With misery of deep-drawn breath, 
E'en as it were at war with death. 

When Phyllis smiles, her glance beguiles 
My heart through love-lit woodland aisles, 
And through the silence high and clear, 
A wooing warbler's song I hear. 

But if she frown, despair comes down, 
I put me on my sack-cloth gown ; 
So frown not, Phyllis, lest I die, 
But look on me with smile or sigh. 



A LITTLE CHRISTMAS BASKET 

No one can read this poem without ob 
serving that the author has little patience 
with the " faith " that does not prove its 
existence by " works." He knew as well, 
if not better, than any poet that ever lived 
the practical realization of Christmas with 
out money or fuel, or food, and he knew 
also, for he was a regular attendant at 
Sunday-school and church in boyhood 
days, that too many professing Christians 
are prone to tell the poor that the " Lord 
will provide " and then close their purses 
with an unpickable lock. 

He does not fail in this remarkably fine 
little jingle to give " 'ligion " its due mead 
of respect, but it is very human, and very 
natural for him to add 

" But I t'ink that 'ligion's sweeter w'en it kind o' 

mixes in 
Wid a little Chrismus basket at de do'." 



De win' is hollahin' " Daih you " to de 

shuttahs an' de fiah, 
De snow's a-sayin' " Got you " to de 

groun', 
Fu' de wintah weathah's come widout 

a-askin' ouah desiah, 
An' he's laughin' in his sleeve at whut 

he foun' ; 
Fu' dey ain't nobody eady wid dey fuel er 

dey food, 
An' de money bag look timid lak, fu' 

sho', 
So we want ouah Chrismus sermon, but 

we'd lak it ef you could 
Leave a little Chrismus basket at de do'. 



Wha's de use o' tellin' chillen 'bout a 

Santy er a Nick, 

An* de sto'ies dat a body allus tol' ? 
When de harf is gray wid ashes an' you 

hasn't got a stick 
Fu' to warm dem when dey little toes is 

col'? 
Wha's de use o' preachin' 'ligion to a man 

dat's sta'ved to def, 

An' a-tellin' him de Mastah will 
pu'vide ? 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



261 



Ef you want to tech his feelin's, save yo' 

sermons an' yo' bref, 
Tek a little Chrismus basket by yo' 
side. 

'Tain't de time to open Bibles an' to lock 

yo' cellah do', 
'.Tain't de time to talk o' bein' good to 

men; 
Ef you want to preach a sermon ez you 

nevah preached befo', 
Preach dat sermon wid a shoat er wid 

er hen; 
Bein' good is heap sight bettah den a-dal- 

lyin' wid sin, 
An' dey ain't nobody roun' dat knows it 

mo', 
Rut I t'ink dat 'ligion's sweeter w'en it kind 

o' mixes in 
Wid a little Chrismus basket at de do'. 



MY SWEET BROWN GAL 

W'en de clouds is hangin' heavy in de 

sky, 
An' de win's's a-taihin' moughty vig'rous 

by, 

I don' go a-sighin' all erlong de way ; 
I des' wo'k a-waitin' fu' de close o' day. 

Case I knows w'en evenin' draps huh 

shadders down, 
I won' care a smidgeon fu' de weathah's 

frown ; 
Let de rain go splashin', let de thundah 

raih, 
Dey's a happy sheltah, an' I's goin' daih. 

Down in my ol' cabin wa'm ez mammy's 

teas', 

'Taters in de fiah layin* daih to roas' ; 
No one daih to cross me, got no talkin' 

pal, 
But I's got de comp'ny o' my sweet brown 

gal. 

So I spen's my evenin' listenin' to huh 

sing, 
Lak a blessid angel ; how huh voice do 

ring! 

Sweetah den a bluebird flutterin' erroun', 
W'en he sees de steamin' o' de new 

ploughed groun'. 



Den I hugs huh closah, closah to my 

breas'. 
Needn't sing, my da'lin', tek you' hones' 

res'. 
Does I mean Malindy, Mandy, Lize er 

Sal? 
No, I means my fiddle dat's my sweet 

brown gal ! 

SPRING FEVER 

Grass commence a-comin* 

Thoo de thawin' groun', 
Evah bird dat whistles 

Keepin' noise erroun' ; 
Cain't sleep in de mo'nin', 

Case befo' it's light 
Bluebird an' de robin 

Done begun to fight. 

Bluebird sass de robin, 

Robin sass him back, 
Den de bluebird scoF him 

'Twell his face is black. 
Would n' min' de quoilin' 

All de mo'nin' long, 
'Cept it wakes me early, 

Case hit's done in song. 

Anybody wo'kin' 

Wants to sleep ez late 
Ez de folks '11 'low him, 

An' I wish to state 
(Co'se dis ain't to scattah, 

But 'twix' me an' you), 
I could stan' de bedclothes, 

Kin' o' latah, too. 

Tain't my natchul fcclin', 

Dis hyeah mopin' spell. 
I Stan's early risin'' 

Mos'ly moughty well ; 
But de ve'y minute, 

I feel Ap'il's heat, 
Bless yo' soul, de bedclothes 

Nevah seemed so sweet. 

Mastah, he's a-scol'in', 

Case de ban's is slow, 
All de hosses balkin', 

Jes' cain't mek 'em go. 



262 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Don* know whut's de mattah, 

Hit's a funny t'ing, 
Less'n hit's de fevah 

Dat you gits in spring. 



TO A VIOLET FOUND ON ALL 
SAINTS' DAY 



This poem found its inspiration in the 
actual finding of a late-blowing violet, 
found by the poet, under his library win 
dow at Washington. This was near the 
time when Mr. Dunbar's domestic tragedy 
occurred, and he said once in speaking of 
the incident : 

" You know they say 

" ' Flowers out of season, 
Trouble without reason,' 

and I really believe there is some truth in 
the rhyme. I found that one little soli 
tary violet on All Saints' Day after all its 
sisters had long been dead, and " with a 
deep sigh and a quick tear : " I never 
had much real happiness after that." 

Belated wanderer of the ways of spring, 
Lost in the chill of grim November 

rain, 
Would I could read the message that you 

bring 
And find in it the antidote for pain. 

Does some sad spirit out beyond the day, 
Far looking to the hours forever dead, 

Send you a tender offering to lay 

Upon the grave of us, the living dead ? 

Or does some brighter spirit, unforlorn, 
Send you, my little sister of the wood, 

To say to some one on a cloudful morn, 
" Life lives through deatn, my brother, 
all is good " ? 

\Vith meditative hearts the others go 
The memory of their dead to dress 

anew. 
But, sister mine, bide here that I may 

know, 

Life grows, through death, as beautiful 
as you. 



THE COLORED BAND 

W'en de colo'ed ban' comes ma'chiri 

down de street, 
Don't you people stan* daih star in' ; lif 

yo' feet ! 

Ain't dey playin' ? Hip, hooray ! 
Stir yo' stumps an* clean de way, 
Fu' de music dat dey mekin' can't be 
beat. 

Oh, de major man's a-swingin' of his 

stick, 
An' de pickaninnies crowdin' roun' him 

thick ; 

In his go'geous uniform, 
He's de lightnin' of de sto'm, 
An' de little clouds erroun' look mighty 
slick. 

You kin hyeah a fine perfo'mance w'en de 

white ban's serenade, 
An' dey play dey high-toned music 

mighty sweet, 
But hit's Sousa played in rag-time, an* 

hit's Rastus on Parade, 
W'en de colo'ed ban' comes ma'chin' 
down de street. 

W'en de colo'ed ban* comes ma'chin' 

down de street 

You kin hyeah de ladies all erroun' re 
peat : 

Ain't dey handsome ? Ain't dey gran* ? 
Ain't dey splendid ? Goodness, Ian' ! 
W'y dey's pu'fect f om dey fo'heads to dey 

feet ! " 
An' sich steppin' to de music down de 

line, 
'Tain't de music by itself dat meks it 

fine, 

Hit's de walkin', step by step, 
An' de keepin' time wid " Hep," 
Dat it mek a common ditty soun' divine. 

Oh, de white ban' play hits music, an' 

hit's mighty good to hyeah, 
An' it sometimes leaves a ticklin' in yo' 

feet ; 
But de hea't goes into bus'ness fu' to he'p 

erlong de eah, 

W'en de colo'ed ban* goes ma'chin' 
down de street 




THE COLORED BAND 




MY 'LiAs WENT TO WAH 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



265 



WHEN DEY 'LISTED COLORED 
SOLDIERS 

Dey was talkin' in de cabin, dey was 

talkin' in de hall ; 
But I listened kin' o' keerless, not 

a-t'inkin' 'bout it all ; 
An' on Sunday, too, 1 noticed, dey was 

whisp'rin' mighty much, 
Stan'in' all erroun' de roadside w'en dey 

let us out o' chu'ch. 

But I didn't t'ink erbout it 'twell de mid 
dle of de week, 
An' my 'Lias come to see me, an' somehow 

he couldn't speak. 
Den I seed all in a minute whut he'd come 

to see me for ; 
Dey had 'listed colo'ed scjers, an' my 'Lias 

gwine to wah. 

Oh, I hugged him, an' I kissed him, an' I 

baiged him not to go ; 
But he tol' me dat his conscience, hit was 

callin' to him so, 
An' he couldn't baih to lingah w'en he had 

a chanst to fight 
For de freedom dey had gin him an' de 

glory of de right. 
So he kissed me, an' he lef me, w'en I'd 

p'omised to be true ; 
An' dey put a knapsack on him, an' a coat 

all colo'ed blue. 
So I gin him pap's ol' Bible f'om de bottom 

of de draw', 
W'en dey 'listed colo'ed sojers an' my 

'Lias went to wah. 

But I fought of all de weary miles dat he 

would have to tramp, 
An' I couldn't be contented w'en dey tuk 

him to de camp. 
W'y my hea't nigh broke wid grievin' 

'twell I seed him on de street ; 
Den I felt lak I could go an' th'ow my 

body at his feet. 
For his buttons was a-shinin', an' his face 

was shinin', too, 
An' he looked so strong an' mighty in his 

coat o' sojer blue, 
Dat I hollahed, " Step up, manny," dough 

my th'oat was so' an' raw, 
W'en dey 'listed colo'ed sojers an' my 'Lias 

went to wah. 



Ol' Mis' cried w'en mastah lef huh, young 

Miss mou'ned huh brothah Ned, 
An' I didn't know dey feelin's is de ve'y 

wo'ds dey said 
W'en I tol' 'em I wasso'y. Dey had done 

gin up dey all ; 
But dey only seemed mo' proudah dat dey 

men had hyeahd de call. 
Bofe my mastahs went in gray suits, an' I 

loved de Yankee blue, 
But I t'ought dat I could sorrer for de losin' 

of 'em too ; 
But I couldn't, for I didn't know de ha'f 

o' whut I saw, 
'Twell dey 'listed colo'ed sojers an* my 

'Lias went to wah. 



Mastah Jack come home all sickly ; he was 

broke for life, dey said ; 
An' dey let* my po' young mastah some'r's 

on de roadside, dead. 
W'en de women cried an' mou'ned 'em, I 

could feel it thoo an' thoo, 
For I had a loved un fightin' in de way o' 

dangah, too. 
Den dey tol' me dey had laid him some'r's 

way down souf to res', 
Wid de flag dat he had fit for shinin' daih 

acrost his breas'. 
Well, I cried, but den I reckon dat's whut 

Gawd had called him for, 
W'en dey 'listed colo'ed sojers an' my 'Lias 

went to wah. 



INSPIRATION 

At the golden gate of song 
Stood I, knocking all day long, 
But the Angel, calm and cold, 
Still refused and bade me, Hold." 

Then a breath of soft perfume, 
Then a light within the gloom ; 
Thou, Love, earnest to my side, 
And the gates flew open wide. 

Long I dwelt in this domain, 
Knew no sorrow, grief, or pain ; 
Now you bid me forth and free, 
Will you shut these gates on me ? 



266 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



SONG 

Wintah, summah, snow er shine, 

Hit's all de same to me, 
Ef only I kin call you mine, 

An' keep you by my knee. 

Ha'dship, frolic, grief er caih, 

Content by night an' day, 
Ef only I kin see you whaih 

You wait beside de way. 

Livin', dyin', smiles er teahs, 

My soul will still be free, 
Ef only thoo de comin' yeahs 

You walk de worl' wid me. 

Bird-song, breeze-wail, chune er moan 
What puny t'ings dey'll be, 

Ef w'en I's seemin' all erlone, 
I knows yo' hea't's wid me. 



MY LADY OF CASTLE GRAND 

Gray is the palace where she dwells, 

Grimly the poplars stand 
There by the window where she sits, 

My Lady of Castle Grand. 

There does she bide the livelong day, 

Grim as the poplars are, 
Ever her gaze goes reaching out, 

Steady, but vague and far. 

Bright burn the fires in the castle hall, 

Brightly the fire-dogs stand ; 
But cold is the body and cold the heart 

Of my Lady of Castle Grand. 

Blue are the veins in her lily-white hands, 
Blue are the veins in her brow ; 

Thin is the line of her blue drawn lips, 
Who would be haughty now ? 

Pale is the face at the window-pane, 
Pale as the pearl on her breast, 

" Roderick, love, wilt come again ? 
Fares he to east or west ? " 

The shepherd pipes to the shepherdess, 
The bird to his mate in the tree, 

And ever she sighs as she hears their song, 
" Nobody sings for me." 



The scullery maids have swains enow 
Who lead them the way of love, 

But lonely and loveless their mistress sits 
At her window up above. 

Loveless and lonely she waits and waits, 
The saddest in all the land ; 

Ah, cruel and lasting is love-blind pride, 
My Lady of Castle Grand. 



DRIZZLE 

Hit's been drizzlin' an' been sprinklin', 

Kin' o' techy all day long. 
I ain't wet enough fu' toddy, 

I's too damp to raise a song, 
An' de case have set me t'inkin', 

Dat dey's folk des lak de rain, 
Dat goes drizzlin' w'en dey's talkin', 

An' won't speak out flat an' plain. 



Ain't you nevah set an' listened 

At a body 'splain his min' ? 
W'en de t'oughts dey keep on drappin' 

Wasn't big enough to fin' ? 
Dem's whut I call drizzlin' people, 

Othahs call 'em mealy mouf, 
But de fust name hits me bettah, 

Case dey nevah tech a drouf. 

Dey kin talk from hyeah to yandah, 

An' f 'om yandah hyeah ergain, 
An' dey don' mek no mo' 'pression, 

Den dis powd'ry kin' o' rain. 
En yo' min' is dry ez cindahs, 

Er a piece o' kindlin* wood, 
'Tain't no use a-talkin' to 'em, 

Fu' dey drizzle ain't no good. 

Gimme folks dat speak out nachul, 

Whut'll say des whut dey mean, 
Whut don't set dey wo'ds so skimpy 

Dat you got to guess between. 
I want talk des' lak de showahs 

Whut kin wash de dust erway, 
Not dat sprinklin' convusation, 

Dat des drizzle all de day. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



267 



DE CRITTERS' DANCE 

Ain't nobody nevah tol' you not a wo'd 

a-tall, 
'Bout de time dat all de critters gin dey 

fancy ball ? 
Some folks tell it in a sto'y, some folks 

sing de rhyme, 
Teahs to me you ought to hyeahed it, case 

hit's ol' ez time. 

Well, de critters all was p'osp'ous, now 

would be de chance 
Fu' to tease ol' Pa'son Hedgehog, givin' of 

a dance ; 
Case, you know, de critter's preachah was 

de stric'est kin', 
An' he nevah made no 'lowance fu' de 

frisky min'. 

So dey sont dey inbitations, Raccoon writ 

'em all, 
" Dis hyeah note is to inbite you to de 

Fancy Ball; 
Come erlong an' bring yo' ladies, bring yo' 

chillun too, 
Put on all yo' bibs an' tuckahs, show whut 

you km do." 

Wen de night come, dey all gathahed in a 
place dey knowed, 

Fu' enough erway f'om people, nigh 
enough de road, 

All de critters had ersponded, Hop- Toad 
up to Baih, 

Ah' I's hyeah to teil you, Pa'son Hedge 
hog too, was daih. 

Well, dey talked an' made dey 'bejunce, 

des lak critters do, 
An' dey walked an' p'omenaded 'roun' an' 

thoo an' thoo; 
Jealous ol' Mis' Fox, she whispah, " See 

Mis' Wildcat daih, 
Ain't hit scan'lous, huh a-comin' wid huh 

shouldahs baih ? " 

Ol' man Tu'tle wasn't honin' fu' no dancin' 

tricks, 
So he stayed by ol' Mis' Tu'tle, talkin' 

politics ; 



Den de ban' hit 'mence a-playin' critters 

all to place, 
Fou' ercross, an' fou' Stan' sideways, smilin* 

face to face. 



'Fessah Frog, he play de co'net, Cricket 

play de hfe, 
Slews o' Grasshoppahs a-fiddlin* lak to 

save dey life ; 
Mistah Crow, he call de figgers, settin* in 

a tree, 
Huh, uh ! how dose critters sasshayed was 

a sight to see. 

Mistah Possom swing Mis' Rabbit up an' 

down de flo', 
Ol' man Baih, he ain't so nimble, an' it 

mek him blow ; 
Raccoon dancin' wid Mis' Squ'il squeeze 

huh little ban', 
She say, " Oh, now ain't you awful, quit it, 

goodness Ian' ! " 

Pa'son Hedgehog groanin' awful at his 

converts' shines, 
'Dough he peepin' thoo his fingahs at dem 

movin' lines, 
'Twell he cain't set still no longah w'en de 

fiddles sing, 
Up he jump, an' bless you, honey, cut de 

pigeon-wing. 

Well, de critters lak to fainted jes* wid dey 

su'prise, 
Sistah Fox, she vowed she wasn't gwine 

to b'lieve huh eyes ; 
But dey couldn't be no 'sputin' 'bout it 

any mo': 
Pa'son Hedgehog was a-cape'in' all erroun' 

de flo'. 



Den dey all jes' capahed scan'lous case 

dey didn't doubt, 
Dat dey still could go to meetin' ; who 

could tu'n 'em out ? 
So wid dancin' an' uligion, dey was in de 

for, 

Fu' a-dancin' wid de Pa'son couldn't hu't 
de soul. 



268 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



LINCOLN 

Hurt was the nation with a mighty wound, 
And all her ways were filled with clam'- 

rous sound. 
Wailed loud the South with unremitting 

grief, 
And wept the North that could not find 

relief. 
Then madness joined its harshest tone to 

strife : 

A minor note swelled in the song of life. 
Till, stirring with the love that filled his 

breast, - 

But still, unflinching at the right's behest, 
Grave Lincoln came, strong handed, from 

afar, 

The mighty Homer of the lyre of war. 
'Twas he who bade the raging tempest 

cease, 
Wrenched from his harp the harmony of 

peace, 
Muted the strings that made the discord, 

Wrong, 

And gave his spirit up in thund'rous song. 
Oh, mighty Master of the mighty lyre, 
Earth heard and trembled at thy strains of 

fire: 
Earth learned of thee what Heav'n already 

knew, 
And wrote thee down among her treasured 

few. 



ENCOURAGEMENT 

Who dat knockin' at de do 1 ? 
Why, Ike Johnson, yes, fu' sho ! 
Come in, Ike. I's mighty glad 
You come down. I t'ought you's mad 
At me 'bout de othah night, 
An' was stayin' 'way fu' spite. 
Say, now, was you mad fu' true 
W'en I kin' o' laughed at you ? . 
Speak up, Ike an' 'spress yo'se'f. 

Tain't no use a-lookin' sad, 
An' a-mekin' out you's mad; 
Ef you's gwine to be so glum, 
Wondah why you evah come. 
I don't lak nobidy 'roun' 
Dat jes' shet dey moufan' frown, 
Oh, now, man, don't act a dunce ! 



Cain't you talk ? I tol' you once, 
Speak up, Ike, an' 'spress yo'se'f. 

Wha'd you come hyeah fu' to-night ? 
Body'd t'ink yo' haid ain't right. 
I's done all dat I kin do, 
Dressed perticler, jes' fu' you; 
Reckon I'd 'a' bettah wo' 
My ol' ragged calico. 
Aftah all de pains I's took, 
Cain't you tell me how I look ? 
Speak up, Ike, an' 'spress yo'se'f. 

Bless my soul ! I 'mos' fu'got 
Tellin' you 'bout Tildy Scott. 
Don't you know, come Thu'sday night, 
She gwine ma'y Lucius White ? 
Miss Lize say I allus wuh 
Heap sight laklier 'n huh ; 
An' she'll git me somep'n new, 
Ef I wants to ma'y too. 

Speak up, Ike, an' 'spress yo'se'f. 

I could ma'y in a week, 
Ef de man I wants 'ud speak. 
Tikly's presents '11 be fine, 
But dey wouldn't ekal mine. 
Him whut gits me fu' a wife 
'LI be proud, you bet yo' life. 
I's had offers; some ain't quit; 
But I hasn't ma'ied yit ! 

Speak up, Ike, an' 'spress yo'se'f. 

Ike, I loves you, yes, I does ; 
You's my choice, and allus was. 
Laffin' at you ain't no harm. 
Go 'way, dahky, whah's yo' arm ? 
Hug me closer dah, dat's right ! 
Wasn't you a awful sight, 
Havin' me to baig you so ? 
Now ax whut you want to know, 
Speak up, Ike, an' 'spress yo'se'f! 

THE BOOGAH MAN 

W'en de evenin' shadders 

Come a-glidin' down, 
Fallin' black an' heavy 

Ovah hill an' town, 
Ef you listen keerful, 

Keerful ez you kin, 



1 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



269 



So's you boun' to notice 
Des a drappin' pin ; 

Den you'll hyeah a funny 
Soun' ercross de Ian' ; 

Lay low ; dat's de callin' 
Of de Boogah Man ! 



Woo-oo, woo-oo ! 

Hyeah him ez he go erlong de way ; 
Woo-oo, woo-oo / 

Don 1 you -wish de night 'udtu'n to day ? 
Woo-oo, woo-oo ! 

Hide yo 1 little peepers 'hind yo 1 ban* ; 
Woo-oo , woo-oo ! 

Callin' of de Boogah Man. 



Wen de win's a-shiverin* 

Thoo de gloomy lane, 
An' dey comes de patterin' 

Of de evenin' rain, 
Wen de owl's a-hootin', 

Out daih in de wood, 
Don' you wish, my honey, 

Dat you had been good ? 
'Tain't no use to try to 

Snuggle up to Dan ; 
Bless you, dat's de callin' 

Of de Boogah Man ! 

Ef you loves yo' mammy, 

An' jyou min's yo' pap, 
Ef you nevah wriggles 

Outen Sukey's lap; 
Ef you says yo' " Lay me " 

Evah single night 
To' dey tucks de kivers 

An' puts out de light, 
Den de rain kin pattah, 

Win' blow lak a fan, 
But you need n' bothah 

'Bout de Boogah Man ! 



THE WRAITH 

Ah me, it is cold and chill, 

And the fire sobs low in the grate, 
While the wind rides by on the hill, 

And the logs crack sharp with hate. 



And she, she is cold and sad 

As ever the sinful are, 
But deep in my heart I am glad 

For my wound and the coming scar. 

Oh, e^er the wind rides by 

And ever the rain-drops grieve ; 

But a voice like a woman's sigh 
Says, " Do you believe, believe ? " 

Ah, you were warm and sweet, 
Sweet as the May days be ; 

Down did I fall at your feet, 
Why did you hearken to me ? 

Oh, the logs they crack and whine, 
And the water drops from the eaves ; 

But it is not rain but brine 

Where my dead darling grieves, 

And a wraith sits by my side, 

A spectre grim and dark; 
Are you gazing here open-eyed 

Out to the lifeless dark ? - 

/ 

But ever the wind rides on, 

And we sit close within ; 
Out of the face of the dawn, 

I and my darling, sin. 



SILENCE 

This stanza was written on the same 
day as his "The Poet," and doubtless 
voices a feeling upon the part of the author 
that perhaps after all as Riley once wrote 
" The silent song is best, and the unsung 
worthiest! " 

In its more intimate application every 
reader will be led to think of some friend 
who does not misconstrue a silent mood, 
and who understands that there are times 
when the silence, lying between two 
human souls " is full of the deepest 
speech." 

'Tis better to sit here beside the sea, 
Here on the spray-kissed beach, 

In silence, that between such friends as we 
Is full of deepest speech. 






\ 



270 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



WHIP-POOR-WILL AND KATY-DID 

Slow de night's a-fallin', 
An' I hyeah de callin' 

Out erpon de lonesome hill; 
Soun' is moughty dreary, 
Solemn-lak an' skeery, 

Sayin' fu' to " whip po' Will." 
Now hit's moughty tryin', 
Fu' to hyeah dis cryin', 

'Deed hit's mo' den I kin stan' ; 
Sho' wid all our slippin', 
Dey's enough of whippin' 

'Dout a bird a'visin' any man. 



In de moons o' summah 
Dey's anothah hummah 

Sings anothah song instid ; 
An' his th'oat's a-swellin' 
Wid de joy o' tellin', 

But he says dat " Katy did." 
Now I feels onsuhtain ; 
Won't you raise de cu'tain 

Ovah all de ti'ngs dat's hid ? 
Wy dat feathahed p'isen 
Goes erbout a'visin' 

Whippin' Will w'en Katy did ? 



TO A CAPTIOUS CRITIC 

Dear critic, who my lightness so deplores, 
Would I might study to be prince of bores, 
Right wisely would I rule that dull es 
tate 
But, sir, I may not, till you abdicate. 



'LONG TO'DS NIGHT 

Daih's a moughty soothin' feelin' 
Hits a dahky man, 

'Long to'ds night. 
W'en de row is mos' nigh ended, 
Den he stops to fan, 
'Long to'ds night. 

De blue smoke fom his cabin is a-callin' 
to him, " Come ; " 



He smell de bacon cookin', an' he hyeah 

de fiah hum ; 
An' he 'mence to sing, 'dough wo'kin' 

putty nigh done made him dumb, 
'Long to'ds night. 



Wid his hoe erpon his shouldah 
Den he goes erlong, 
'Long to'ds night. 
An' he keepin' time a-steppin* 
Wid a little song, 

'Long to'ds night. 
De restin'-time's a-comin', an' de time to 

drink an' eat; 
A baby's toddlin' to'ds him on hits little 

dusty feet, 

An' a-goin' to'ds his cabin, an' his suppah's 
moughty sweet, 
'Long to'ds night. 



Daih his Ca'line min' de kettle, 
Rufus min' de chile, 
'Long to'ds night ; 
An' de sweat roll down his forred, 
Mixin' wid his smile, 

'Long to'ds night. 
He toss his piccaninny, an' he hum a little 

chune ; 
De wo'kin' all is ovah, an' de suppah 

comin' soon ; 

De wo'kin' time's Decembah, but de 
restin* time is June, 
'Long to'ds night. 



Dey's a kin' o' doleful feelin', 
Hits a tendah place, 
'Long to'ds night ; 
Dey's a moughty glory in him 
Shinin' thoo his face, 
'Long to'ds night. 
De cabin's lak de big house, an' de fiah's 

lak de sun ; 
His wife look moughty lakly, an' de chile 

de puttiest one ; 

W'y, hit's blessid, jes' a-livin' w'en a body's 
wo'k is done. 

'Long to'ds night 




HE Toss His PICCANINNY 




SHE DE ONLY Hoss FU' ME 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



273 



DAT OL' MARE O' MINE 

In 1899, when the poet was compelled 
to leave Washington, where his duties as 
librarian had been too hard for him, he 
and his wife and mother went to Denver. 
Here they lived in a cottage near the city, 
and Mr. Dunbar took long rides for his 
health. For this purpose he purchased a 
gray mare, and soon learned to love the 
animal devotedly. Desiring to pay a 
tribute to his faithful dumb friend he 
wrote the poem. He wrote to a friend 
about this time, that he sold this poem for 
a sum equal to half the price he had paid 
for the mare ! 

Want to trade me, do you, mistah ? Oh, 

well, now, I reckon not, 
W'y you couldn't buy my Sukey fu' a 

thousan' on de spot. 

Dat ol' mare o' mine ? 
Yes, huh coat ah long an' shaggy, an' she 

ain't no shakes to see ; 
Dat's a ring-bone, yes, you right, suh, an' 

she got a on'ry knee, 
But dey ain't no use in talkin', she de only 

hoss fu' me, 

Dat ol' mare o' mine. 

Co'se, I knows dat Suke's contra'y, an* 
she moughty ap' to vex ; 

But you got to mek erlowance fu' de na 
ture of huh sex ; 

Dat ol' mare o' mine. 

Ef you pull her on de lef han' ; she plum 
'termined to go right, 

A cannon couldn't skeer huh, but she 
boun' to tek a fright 

At a piece o' common paper, or anyt'ing 
whut's white, 

Dat ol' mare o' mine. 

W'en my eyes commence to fail me, 

dough, I trus'es to huh sight, 
An* she'll tote me safe an' hones' on de 

ve'y da'kes' night, 

Dat ol' mare o' mine. 
Ef I whup huh, she jes' switch huh tail, 

an* settle to a walk, 
Ef I whup huh mo', she shek huh haid, 

an' lak ez not, she balk. 



But huh sense ain't no ways lackin', she 
do evaht'ing but talk, 

Dat ol' mare o' mine. 

But she gentle ez a lady w'en she know 

huh beau kin see, 
An' she sholy got mo' gumption any day 

den you or me, 

Dat ol' mare o' mine. 
She's a leetle slow a-goin', an' she moughty 

ha'd to sta't, 
But we's gittin' ol' togathah, an' she's 

closah to my hea't, 
An' I doesn't reckon, mistah, dat she'd 

sca'cely keer to pa't ; 

Dat ol' mare o' mine. 

W'y I knows de time dat cidah's kin* o' 

muddled up my haid, 
Ef it hadn't been fu' Sukey hyeah, I 

reckon I'd been daid ; 

Dat ol' mare o' mine. 
But she got me in de middle o' de road 

an' tuk me home, 
An' she wouldn't let me wandah, ner she 

wouldn't let me roam, 
Dat's de kin' o' hoss to tie to w'en you's 

seed de cidah's foam, 

Dat ol' mare o' mine. 

You kin talk erbout yo' heaven, you kin 
talk erbout yo' hell, 

Dey is people, dey is bosses, den dey's cat 
tle, den dey's well 
Dat ol' mare o' mine ; 

She de beatenes' t'ing dat evak struck de 
medders o' de town, 

An' aldough huh haid ain't fittin' fu' to 
waih no golden crown, 

D' ain't a blessed way fu' Petah fu' to 
tu'n my Sukey down, 

Dat ol' mare o' mine. 



A GRIEVANCE 

W'en de snow's a-fallin* 
An* de win' is col'. 

Mammy 'mence a-callin', 
Den she 'mence to scol', 

" Lucius Lishy Brackett, 
Don't you go out do's, 



274 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Button up yo' jacket, 
Les'n you'll git froze." 

I sit at de windah 

Lookin' at de groun', 
Nuffin nigh to hindah, 

Mammy ain' erroun' ; 
Wish't she wouldn' mek me 

Set down in dis chaih ; 
Pshaw, it wouldn't tek me 

Long to git some aih. 

So I jump down nimble 

Ez a boy kin be, 
Dough Fs all a-trimble 

Feahed some one'll see ; 
Bet in a half a minute 

I fly out de do' 
An' I's knee-deep in it, 

Dat dah blessed snow. 

Den I hyeah a pattah 

Come acrost de flo'. 
Den dey comes a clattah 

At de cabin do' ; 
An* my mammy holler 

Spoilin' all my joy, 
" Come in f 'om dat waller, 

Don't I see you, boy ? " 

Wen de snow's a-sievin' 

Down ez sof ' ez meal, 
Whut's de use o' livin' 

'Cept you got de feel 
Of de stuff dat's fallin' 

'Roun' an' white an' damp, 
'Dout some one a-callin', 

" Come in hyeah, you scamp ! " 



DINAH KNEADING DOUGH 

I have seen full many a sight 
Born of day or drawn by night : 
Sunlight on a silver stream, 
Golden lilies all a-dream, 
Lofty mountains, bold and proud, 
Veiled beneath the lacelike cloud ; 
But no lovely sight I know 
Equals Dinah kneading dough. 



Brown arms buried elbow-deep 
Their domestic rhythm keep, 
As with steady sweep they go 
Through the gently yielding dough. 
Maids may vaunt their finer charms 
Naught to me like Dinah's arms ; 
Girls may draw, or paint, or sew 
I love Dinah kneading dough. 

Eyes of jet and teeth of pearl, 
Hair, some say, too tight a-curl ; 
But the dainty maid I deem 
Very near perfection's dream. 
Swift she works, and only flings 
Me a glance the least of things. 
And I wonder, does she know 
That my heart is in the dough ? 

IN THE MORNING 

'Lias ! 'Lias ! Bless de Lawd ! 
Don' you know de day's erbroad? 
Ef you don' git up, you scamp, 
Dey'll be trouble in dis camp. 
T'ink I gwine to let you sleep 
Wile I meks yo' boa'd an' keep ? 
Dat's a putty howdy-do 
Don' you hyeah me, 'Lias you ? 

i 

Bet ef I come crost dis flo' 
You won' fin' no time to sno*. 
Daylight all a-shinin' in 
Wile you sleep w'y hit's a sin I 
Ain't de can'le-light enough 
To bu'n out widout a snuff, 
But you go de mo'nin' thoo 
Bu'nin' up de daylight too ? 

'Lias, don' you hyeah me call ? 
No use tu'nin' to'ds de wall ; 
I kin hyeah dat mattuss squeak ; 
Don' you hyeah me w'en I speak? 
Dis hyeah clock done struck off six 
GaJJine, bring me dem ah sticks! 
Oh, you down, suh ; huh ! you down 
Look hyeah, don' you daih to frown. 

Ma'ch yo'se'f an' wash yo' face, 
Don' you splattah all de place : 
I got somep'n else to do, 
'Sides jes' cleanin' aftah you. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



275 



Tek dat comb an' fix yo' haid 
Looks jes' lak a feddah baid. 
Look hyeah, boy, I let you see 
You sha'n't roll yo' eyes at me. 

Come hyeah ; bring me dat ah strap ! 
Boy, I'll whup you 'twell you drap; 
You done felt yo'se'f too strong, 
An' you sholy got me wrong. 
Set down at dat table thaih ; 
Jes' you whimpah ef you daih ! 
Evah mo'nin' on dis place, 
Seem lak I rnus' lose my grace. 

FoF yo' han's an' bow yo' haid 

Wait ontwell cle blessin' 's said ; 

" Lawd, have mussy on ouah souls ' 

(Don' you daih to tech dem rolls ) 

" Bless de food we gwine to eat " 

(You set still I see yo' feet ; 

You jes' try dat trick agin !) 

" Gin us peace an' joy. Amen ! " 



THE POET 

These eight lines tell the story of Paul 
Dunbar's greatest disappointment in con 
nection with his literary achievements. 
He grew tired of writing jingles, in a 
broken tongue, but the heedless world 
wanted none of the almost fathomless 
language poems, which reflected the real 
soul of the poet. As the sheen of tinsel 
pleases the eye of the ragged crowd who 
seldom see pure gold, so the jingles, the 
swing, and the laughter so apparent in 
Dunbar's dialect satisfied the majority of 
readers the pure gold was left for 'the 
thinking few. > 

He sang of life, serenely sweet, 

With, now and then, a deeper note. 
From some high peak, nigh yet remote, 

He voiced the world's absorbing beat. 

He sang of love when earth was young, 
And Love, itself, was in his lays. 
But ah, the world, it turned to praise 

A jingle in a broken tongue. 



A FLORIDA NIGHT 

Win' a-blowin* gentle so de san' lay low, 

San' a little heavy Pom de rain, 
All de pa'ms a-wavin' an' a-weavin' slow, 

Sighin' lak a sinnah-soul in pain. 
Alligator grinnin' by de ol' lagoon, 
Mockin'-bird a-singin' to de big full moon, 
'Skeeter go a-skimmin' to his nghtin' 

chune 
(Lizy Ann's a-waitin' in de lane !). 

Moccasin a-sleepin' in de Cyprus swamp ; 
Needn't wake de gent'man, not fu' me. 
Mule, you needn't wake him w'en you 

switch an' stomp, 
Fightin' off a 'skeeter er a flea. 
Florida is lovely, she's de fines' Ian' 
Evah seed de sunlight Pom de Mastah's 

han', 
'Ceptin' fu' de varmints an' huh fleas an' 

san' 
An' de nights w'en Lizy Ann ain' free. 

Moon's a-kinder shaddered on de melon 
patch ; 

No one ain't a-watchin' ez I go. 
Climbin' of de fence so's not to click de 
latch 

Meks my gittin' in a little slow. 
Watermelon smilin' as it say, " I's free ; " 
Alligator boomin', but I let him be, 
Florida, oh, Florida's de Ian' fu' me 

(Lizy Ann a-singin' sweet an' low). 



DIFFERENCES 

My neighbor lives on the hill, 

And I in the valley dwell, 
My neighbor must look down on me, 

Must I look up ? ah, well, 
My neighbor lives on the hill, 

And I in the valley dwell. 

My neighbor reads, and prays, 

And I I laugh, God wot, 
And sings like a bird when the grass if 
green 

In my small garden plot ; 
But ah, he reads and prays, 

And I I laugh, God wot. 



276 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



His face is a book of woe, 

And mine is a song of glee ; 
A slave he is to the great " They say," 

But I I am bold and free; 
No wonder he smacks of woe, 

And I have the tang of glee. 

My neighbor thinks me a fool, 
" The same to yourself," say I ; 

"Why take your books and take your 

prayers, 
Give me the open sky ; " 

My neighbor thinks me a fool, 
" The same to yourself," say I. 



LONG AGO 

De ol' time's gone, de new time's hyeah 

Wid all hits fuss an' feddahs ; 
I done fu'got de joy an' cheah 

We knowed all kin's o' weddahs, 
I done fu'got each ol'-time hymn 

We ust to sing in meetin' ; 
I's leahned de prah's, so neat an' trim, 

De preachah keeps us 'peatin'. 

Hang a vine by de chimney side, 

An' one by de cabin do' ; 
An* sing a song fu' de day dat died, 

De day of long ergo. 

My youf, hit's gone, yes, long ergo, 

An' yit.I ain't a-moanin' ; 
Hit's fu' somet'ings I ust to know 

I set to-night a-honin'. 
De pallet on de ol' plank flo', 

De rain bar'l und' de eaves, 
De live oak 'fo' de cabin do', 

Whaih de night dove comes an* grieves. 

Hang a vine by de chimney side, 

An' one by de cabin do' ; 
An' sing a song fu' de day dat died, 

De day of long ergo. 

I'd lak a few ol' frien's to-night 

To come an' set wid me; 
An' let me feel dat ol' delight 

I ust to in dey glee. 
But hyeah we is, my pipe an' me, 

Wid no one else erbout ; 



We bote is choked ez choked kin be, 
An' bofe'll soon go out. 

Hang a vine by de chimney side, 
An' one by de cabin do' ; 

An' sing a song fu' de day dat died, 
De day of long ergo. 



A PLANTATION MELODY 

De trees is bendin' in de sto'm, 

De rain done hid de mountain's fo'm, 

I's 'lone an' in distress. 
But listen, dah's a voice I hyeah, 
A-sayin' to me, loud an' cleah, 

" Lay low in de wildaness." 

De lightnin' flash, de bough sway low. 
My po' sick hea't is trimblin' so, 

It hu'ts my very breas'. 
But him dat give de lightnin' powah 
Jes' bids me in de tryin' howah 

" Lay low in de wildaness." 

O brothah, w'en de tempes' beat, 
An' w'en yo' weary head an' feet 

Can't fin' no place to res', 
Jes' membah dat de Mastah's nigh, 
An' putty soon you'll hyeah de cry, 

" Lay low in de wildaness." 

O sistah, w'en de rain come down, 
An' all yo' hopes is 'bout to drown, 

Don't trus' de Mastah less. 
He smilin' w'en you t'ink he frown, 
He ain' gwine let yo' soul sink down 

Lay low in de wildaness. 

A SPIRITUAL 

De 'cession's stahted on de gospel way, 
De Capting is a-drawin' nigh : 

Bettah stop a-foolin' an' a-try to pray ; 
LiP up yo' haid w'en de King go by! 

Oh, sinnah mou'nin' in de dusty road, 
Hyeah's de minute fu' to dry yo' eye : 

Dey's a moughty One a-comin' fu' to baih 

yo' load ; 
LiP up yo' haid w'en de King go by ! 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



277 



Oh, widder weepin' by yo' husban's 

grave, 

Hit's bettah fu' to sing den sigh : 
Hyeah come de Mastah wid de powah to 

save; 
Lif ' up yo' haid w'en de King go by ! 

Oh, orphans a-weepin' lak de widder do, 
An* I wish you'd tell me why : 

De Mastah is a mammy an' a pappy too ; 
Lif up yo' haid w'en de King go by! 

Oh, Moses sot de sarpint in de wildahness 
W'en de chilhm had commenced to 

die: 
Some 'efused to look, but hit cuohed de 

res'; 
Lif up yo' haid w'en de King go by! 

Bow down, bow 'way down, 

Bow down, 
But lif up yo haid w'en de King go by! 



THE MEMORY OF MARTHA 

Out in de night a sad bird moans, 

An', oh, but hit's moughty lonely; 
Times I kin sing, but mos' I groans, 
Fu' oh, but hit's moughty lonely ! 
Is you sleepin' well dis evenin', Marfy, 

deah? 
W'en I calls you Pom de cabin, kin you 

hyeah ? 

'Tain't de same ol' place to me, 
Nuffin' 's lak hit used to be, 
W'en I knowed dat you was allus some'ers 
near. 

Down by de road de shadders grows, 
An', oh, but hit's moughty lonely; 
Seem lak de ve'y moonlight knows, 
An', oh, but hit's moughty lonely ! 
Does you know, I's cryin' fu' you, oh, my 

wife ? 
Does you know dey ain't no joy no mo' in 

life ? 

An' my only t'ought is dis, 
Dat I's honin' fu' de bliss 
Fu' to quit dis groun' o' worriment an' 
strife. 



Dah on de baid my banjo lays, 

An', oh, but hit's moughty lonely; 
Can't even sta't a chune o' praise, 

An', oh, but hit's moughty lonely ! 
Oh, hit's moughty slow a waitin' hyeah 

below. 
Is you watchin' fu' me, Marfy, at de do* ? 

Ef you is, in spite o' sin, 

Dey'll be sho' to let me in, 
W'en dey sees yo' face a-shinin', den dey'll 
know. 



W'EN I GITS HOME 

It's moughty tiahsome layin' 'roun* 
Dis sorrer-laden earfly groun', 
An' oftentimes I thinks, thinks I, 
'Twould be a sweet t'ing des to die, 
An' go 'long home. 

Home whaih de frien's I loved'll say, 
" We've waited fu' you many a day, 
Come hyeah an' res' yo'se'f, an' know 
You's done wid sorrer an' wid woe, 
Now you's at home." 

W'en I gits home some blessid day, 
I 'lows to th'ow my caihs erway, 
An' up an' down de shinin' street, 
Go singm' sof an' low an' sweet, 
W'en I gits home. 

I wish de day was neah at han', 
I's tiahed of dis grievin' Ian', 
I's tiahed of de lonely yeahs, 
I want to des dry up my teahs, 
An' go 'long home. 

Oh, Mastah, won't you sen* de call ? 
My frien's is daih, my hope, my all. 
I's waitin' whaih de road is rough, 
I want to hyeah you say, " Enough, 
Ol' man, come home ! " 



"HOWDY, HONEY, HOWDY!" 

Do' a-stan'in' on a jar, fiah a-shinin' thoo 
Ol' folks drowsm' 'roun' de place, wide 

awake is Lou, 
W'en I tap, she answeh, an' I see huh 

'mence to grin, 



2 7 8 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



' Howdy, honey, howdy, won't you step 
right in ? " 

Den I step erpon de log layin' at de do', 
Bless de Lawd, huh mammy an' huh pap's 

done 'menced to sno', 
Now's de time, ef evah, ef I's gwine to 

try an' win, 
" Howdy, honey, howdy, won't you step 

right in ? " 



No use playin* on de aidge, trimblin' on de 

brink, 
Wen a body love a gal, tell huh whut he 

t'ink ; 
Wen huh hea't is open fu' de love you 

gwine to gin, 
Pull yo'se'f togethah, suh, an' step right 

in. 



Sweetes' imbitation dat a body evah 

hyeahed, 
Sweetah den de music of a love-sick 

mockin'-bird, 
Comin' f'om de gal you loves bettah den 

yo' kin, 
" Howdy, honey, howdy, won't you step 

right in? " 

At de gate o' heaven w'en de storm o' life 

is pas', 
'Spec' I'll be a-stan'in', 'twell de Mastah 

say at las', 
" Hyeah he stan' all weary, but he winned 

his fight wid sin. 
Howdy, honey, howdy, won't you step 

right in? " 



THE UNSUNG HEROES 

A song for the "unsung heroes who rose in 

the country's need, 
When the life of the land was threatened 

by the slaver's cruel greed, 
For the men who came from the corn-field, 

who came from the plough and the 

flail, 
Who rallied round when they heard the 

sound of the mighty man of the rail. 



They laid them down in the valleys, the/ 

laid them down in the wood, 
And the world looked on at the work the) 

did, and whispered, " It is good." 
They fought their way on the hillside, they 

fought their way in the glen, 
And God looked down on their sinew 

brown, and said, " I have made then* 



They went to the blue lines gladly, and 

the blue lines took them in, 
And the men who saw their muskets' fire 

thought not of their dusky skin. 
The gray lines rose and melted beneath 

their scathing showers, 
And they said, " 'Tis true, they have force 

to do, these old slave boys of ours." 

Ah, Wagner saw their glory, and Pillow 
knew their blood, 

That poured on a jiation's altar, a sacrifi 
cial flood. 

Port Hudson heard their war-cry that 
smote its smoke-filled air, 

And the old free fires of their savage sires 
again were kindled there. 

They laid them down where the rivers the 

greening valleys gem, 
And the song of the thund'rous cannon 

was their sole requiem, 
And the great smoke wreath that mingled 

its hue with the dusky cloud, 
Was the flag that furled o'er a saddened 

world, and the sheet that made their 

shroud. 

Oh, Mighty God of the Battles who held 

them in thy hand, 
Who gave them strength through the 

whole day's length, to fight for their 

native land, 
They are lying dead on the hillsides, they 

are lying dead on the plain, 
And we have not fire to smite the lyre and 

sing them one brief strain. 

Give, thou, some seer the power to sing 

them in their might, 
The men who feared the master's whip, 

but did not fear the fight ; 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



279 



That he may tell of their virtues as min 
strels did of old, 

Till the pride of face and the hate of race 
g:ow obsolete and cold. 

A song Tor the unsung heroes who stood 

the a'wful test, 
When the humblest host that the land 

could boast went forth to meet the 

best; 
A song for the unsung heroes who fell on 

the bloody sod, 
Who fought their way from night to day 

and struggled up to God. 

THE POOL. 

By the pool that I see in my dreams, dear 

love, 

I have sat with you time and again ; 
And listened beneath the dank leaves, 

dear love, 
To the sibilant sound of the rain. 

And the pool, it is silvery bright, dear 

love, 

And as pure as the heart of a maid, 
As sparkling and dimpling, it darkles and 

shines 
In the depths of the heart of the glade. 

But, oh, I've a wish in my soul, dear love, 
(The wish cf a dreamer, it seems), 

That I might wash free of my sins, dear 

love, 
In the pool that I see in my dreams. 

POSSESSION 

Whose little lady is you, chile, 

Whose little gal is you ? 
What's de use o' kiver'n up yo' face ? 

Chile, dat ain't de way to do. 
Lemme see yo' little eyes, 

Tek yo' little han's down nice, 
Lawd, you wuff a million bills, 

Huh uh, chile, dat ain't yo' price 

Honey, de money ain't been made 

Dat dey could pay fu' you ; 
'Tam't no use a-biddin'; you too high 

Fu' de riches' Jap er Jew. 
16 



Lemme see you smilin* now, 
How dem teef o' yo'n do shine, 

An' de t'ing dat meks me laff 
Is dat all o' you is mine. 

How's I gwine to tell you how I feel, 

How's I gwine to weigh yo' wuff? 
Oh, you sholy is de sweetes' t'ing 

Walkin' on dis blessed earf. 
Possum is de sweetes' meat, 

Cidah is de nices' drink, 
But my little lady-bird 

Is de bes' of all, I t'ink. 

Talk erbout 'uligion he'pin' folks 

All thoo de way o' life, 
Gin de res' 'uligion, des' gin me 

You, my little lady-wife. 
Den de days kin come all ha'd, 

Den do nights kin come all black, 
Des' you tek me by de han', 

An' I'll stumble on de track. 

Stumble on de way to Gawd, my chile, 

Stumble on, an' mebbe fall; 
But I'll keep a-trottin', while you lead 
on, 

Pickin' an' a-trottin', dat's all. 
Hoi' me mighty tight, dough, chile, 

Fu' hit's rough an' rocky Ian', 
Heaben's at de en', I know, 

So I's leanin' on yo' han'. 



THE OLD FRONT GATE 

W'en daih's chillun in de house, 

Dey keep on a-gittin' tall ; 
But de folks don' seem to see 

Dat dey's growin' up at all, 
'Twell dey fin' out some fine day 

Dat de gals has 'menced to grow, 
W'en dey notice as dey pass 

Dat de front gate's saggin' low. 

W'en de hinges creak an' cry, 
An* de bahs go slantin' down, 

You km reckon dat hit's time 
Fu' to cas' yo' eye erroun', 

'Cause daih ain't no 'sputin' dis, 

Hit's de trues' sign to show 



280 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Dat daih's cou'tin* goin' on 

Wen de ol' front gate sags low. 

Oh, you grumble an' complain, 

An' you prop dat gate up right ; 
But you notice right nex' day 

Dat hit's in de same ol' plight. 
So you fin' dat hit's a rule, 

An' daih ain" no use to blow, 
Wen de gals is growin' up, 

Dat de front gate will sag low. 

Den you t'ink o' yo' young days, 

Wen you cou'ted Sally Jane, 
An' you so't o' feel ashamed 

Fu' to grumble an' complain, 
'Cause yo' ricerlection says, 

An' you know hits wo'ds is so, 
Dat huh pappy had a time 

Wid his front gate saggin' low. 

So you jes' looks on an' smiles 

At 'em leanin' on de gate, 
Tryin' to t'ink whut he kin say 

Fu' to keep him daih so late, 
But you lets dat gate erlone, 

Fu' yo' 'sperunce goes to show, 
'Twell de gals is ma'ied off, 

It gwine keep on saggin' low. 



DIRGE FOR A SOLDIER 

In the east the morning comes, 
Hear the rollin' of the drums 

On the hill. 

But the heart that beat as they beat 
In the battle's raging day heat 

Lieth still. 

Unto him the night has come, 
Though they roll the morning drum. 



What is in the bugle's blast ? 
It is : " Victory at last ! 

Now for rest." 

But, my comrades, come behold him 
Where our colors now enfold him, 

And his breast 

Bares no more to meet the blade, 
But lies covered in the shade. 



What a stir there is to-day ! 
They are laying him away 

Where he fell. 

There the flag goes draped before hirr 
Now they pile the grave sod o'er him 

With a knell. 

And he answers to his name 
In the higher ranks of fame. 

There's a woman left to mourn 
For the child that she has borne 

In travail. 

But her heart beats high and higher, 
With a patriot mother's fire, 

At the tale. 

She has borne and lost a son, 
But her work and his are done. 

Fling the flag out, let it wave ; 
They're returning from the grave 

" Double quick ! "" 
And the cymbals now are crashing, 
Bright his comrades' eyes are flashing 

From the thick 

Battle-ranks which knew him brave, 
No tears for a hero's grave. 

In the east the morning comes, 
Hear the rattle of the drums 

Far away. 

Now no time for griefs pursuing, 
Other work is for the doing, 

Here to-day. 

He is sleeping, let him rest 
With the flag across his breast 



A FROLIC 

Swing yo' lady roun' an' roun', 

Do de bes' you know ; 
Mek yo' bow an' p'omenade 

Up an' down de flo' ; 
Mek dat banjo hump huhse'f, 

Listen at huh talk : 
Mastah gone to town to-night ; 

'Tain't no time to walk. 

Lif yo' feet an' flutter thoo, 

Run, Miss Lucy, run ; 
Reckon you'll be cotched an' kissed 

'Fo' de night is done,, 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



281 



You don't need to be so proud 

I's a-watchin' you, 
An' I's layin' lots o' plans 

Fu' to git you, tpo. 

Moonlight on de cotton-fieP 

Shinin' sof an' white, 
Whippo'will a-tellin' tales 

Out thaih in de night ; 
An' yo' cabin's 'crost de lot : 

Run, Miss Lucy, run ; 
Reckon you'll be cotched an' kissed 

To' de night is done. 



LOVE'S CASTLE 

Key and bar, key and bar, 

Iron bolt and chain ! 
And what will you do when the King comes 

To enter his domain ? 

Turn key and lift bar, 

Loose, oh, bolt and chain ! 
Open the door and let him in, 

And then lock up again. 

But, oh, heart, and woe, heart, 

Why do you ache so sore ? 
Never a moment's peace have you 

Since Love hath passed the door. 

Turn key and lift bar, 

And loose bolt and chain ; 
But Love took in his esquire, Grief, 

And there they both remain. 



MORNING SONG OF LOVE 

Darling, my darling, my heart is on the 

wing, 

It flies to thee this morning like a bird, 
Like happy birds in spring-time my spirits 

soar and sing, 

The same sweet song thine ears have 
often heard. 

The sun is in my window, the shadow on 

the lea, 

The wind is moving in the branches 
green, 



And all my life, my darling, is turning unto 

thee, 

And kneeling at thy feet, my own, my 
queen. 

The golden bells are ringing across the 

distant hill, 
Their merry peals come to me soft and 

clear, 

But in my heart's deep chapel all incense- 
filled and still 
A sweeter bell is sounding for thee, dear. 

The bell of love invites thee to come and 

seek the shrine 

Whose altar is erected unto thee, 
The offerings, the sacrifice, the prayers, 

the chants are thine, 
And I, my love, thy humble priest will 
be. 



ON A CLEAN BOOK 

TO F. N. 

Like sea-washed sand upon the shore, 

So fine and clean the tale, 
So clear and bright I almost see, 

The flashing of a sail. 

The tang of salt is in its veins, 

The freshness of the spray 
God give you love and lore and strength, 

To give us such alway. 



TO THE EASTERN SHORE 

Fs feelin' kin* o' lonesome in my little 

room to-night, 
An' my min's done los' de minutes an* 

de miles, 
Wile it tcks me back a-flyin' to de country 

of delight, 
Whaih de Chesapeake goes grumblin' 

er wid smiles. 
Oh, de ol' plantation's callin' to me, 

Come, come back, 
Hyeah's de place fu' you to labor an' 

to res', 

Fu' my sandy roads is gleamin* w'ile 
de city ways is black ; 



282 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Come back, honey, case yo' country 
home is bes'. 

I know de moon is shinin' down erpon de 

Eastern sho', 
An* de bay's a-sayin' " Howdy " to de 

Ian' ; 
An' de folks is all a-settin' out erroun' de 

cabin do', 

Wid dey feet a-restin' in de silvah san' ; 
An' de oF plantation's callin' to me, 

Come, oh, come, 
F'om de life dat's des' a-waihin' you 

erway, 
F'om de trouble an' de bustle, an' de 

agernizin' hum 
Dat de city keeps ergoin' all de day. 

I's tiahed of de city, tek me back to Sandy 

Side, 
Whaih de po'est ones kin live an' play 

an' eat ; 
Whaih we draws a simple livin' f'om de 

fo'est an' de tide, 
An* de days ah faih, an' evah night is 

sweet. 
Fu' de oP plantation's callin' to me, 

Come, oh, come. 
An' the Chesapeake's a-sayin' " Dat's 

de t'ing," 
Wile my little cabin beckons, dough 

his mouf is closed an' dumb, 
I's a-comin', an' my hea't begins to 
sing. 



BALLADE 

By Mystics' banks I held my dream. 

(I held my fishing rod as well), 
The vision was of dace and bream, 

A fruitless vision, sooth to tell. 

But round about the sylvan dell 
Were other sweet Arcadian shrines, 

Gone now, is all the rural spell, 
Arcadia has trolley lines. 

Oh, once loved, sluggish, darkling stream, 
For me no more, thy waters swell, 

Thy music now the engines' scream, 
Thy fragrance now the factory's smell ; 



Too near for me the clanging bell , 
A false light in the water shines 

While Solitude lists to her knell, 
Arcadia has trolley lines. 

Thy wooded lanes with shade and gleam 

Where bloomed the fragrant asphodel, 
Now bleak commercially teem 

With signs " To Let," To Buy," To 
Sell." 

And Commerce holds them fierce and 

fell; 
With vulgar sport she now combines 

Sweet Nature's piping voice to quell. 
Arcadia has trolley lines. 

L'ENVOI 

Oh, awful Power whose works repel 
The marvel of the earth's designs, 

I'll hie me otherwhere to dwell, 
Arcadia has trolley lines. 



NODDIN' BY DE FIRE 

Some folks t'inks hit's right an' p'opah, 

Soon ez bedtime come erroun', 
Fu' to scramble to de kiver, 

Lak dey'd hyeahed de trumpet soun', 
But dese people dey ail misses 

Whut I mos'ly does desiah ; 
Dat's de settin' roun' an' dozin', 

An' a-noddin' by de fiah. 

When you's tiahed out a-hoein', 

Er a-followin' de plough, 
Whut's de use of des a-fallin' 

On yo' pallet lak a cow ? 
W'y, de fun is all in waitin' 

In de face of all de tiah, 
An' a-dozin' an' a-drowsin' 

By a good oP hick'ry fiah. 

Oh, you grunts an' groans an' mumbles 

Case yo' bones is full o' col', 
Dough you feels de joy a-tricklin' 

Roun' de co'nahs of yo' soul. 
An' you 'low anothah minute 

'S sho to git you wa'm an' dryah, 
Wen you set up pas' yo' bedtime, 

Case you hates to leave de fiah. 




BY A GOOD OL' HICK'RY FIAH 




LI'L' GAL 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



285 



Whut's de use o' downright sleepin' ? 

You can't feel it while it las', 
An' you git up feelin' sorry 

Wen de time fu' it is pas'. 
Seem to me dat time too precious, 

An' de houahs too short entiah, 
Fu' to sleep, w'en you could spen' 'em 

Des a-noddin' by de fiah. 



LI'L' GAL 

Oh, de weathah it is balmy an' de breeze 
is sigh in' low, 

Li'l' gal, 

An' de mockin' bird is singin' in de locus' 
by de do', 

Li'l' gal ; 
Dere's a hummin' an' a bummin' in de 

Ian' f ' om eas' to wes', 
I's a-sighin' fu' you, honey, an' I nevah 

know no res'. 

Fu' dey's lots o' trouble brewin' an' 
a-stewin' in my breas', 
Li'l' gal. 

Whut's de mattah wid de weathah, whut's 
de mattah wid de breeze, 

Li'l' gal ? 

Whut's de mattah wid de locus' dat's 
a-singin' in de trees, 
Li'l' gal ? 
W'y dey knows dey ladies love 'em, an' 

dey knows dey love 'em true, 
An' dey love 'em back, I reckon, des' lak 

I's a-lovin' you ; 

Dat's de reason dey's a-weavin' an' 
a-sighin', thoo an' thoo, 
Li'l' gal. 

Don't you let no da'ky fool you 'cause de 
clo'es he waihs is fine, 

Li'l' gal. 

Dey's a hones' hea't a-beatin' unnerneaf 
dese rags o' mine, 

Li'l' gal. 
C'ose dey ain' no use in mockin' whut de 

birds an' weathah do, 
But I's so'y I cain't 'spress it w'en I 

knows I loves you true, 
Dat's de reason I's a-sighin' an' a-singin' 
now fu' you, 

Li'l' gal. 



RELUCTANCE 

Will I have some mo' dat pie ? 
No, ma'am, thank-ee, dat is I 

Bettah quit daihin' me. 
Dat ah pie look sutny good : 
How'd you feel now ef I would ? 
I don' reckon dat I should ; 

Bettah quit daihin' me. 



Look hyeah, I gwine tell de truf, 
Mine is sholy one sweet toof : 

Bettah quit daihin' me. 
Yass'm, yass'm, dat's all right, 
I's done tried to be perlite : 
But dat pie's a lakly sight, 

Wha's de use o' daihin' me ? 



My, yo' lips is full an' red, 
Don't I wish you'd tu'n yo' haid ? 

Bettah quit daihin' me. 
Dat ain't faih, now, honey chile, 
I's gwine lose my sense erwhile 
Ef you des set daih an' smile, 

Bettah quit daihin' me. 



Nuffin' don' look ha'f so fine 

Ez dem teef, deah, w'en dey shine : 

Bettah quit daihin' me. 
Now look hyeah, I tells you dis ; 
I'll give up all othah bliss 
Des to have one little kiss, 

Bettah quit daihin' me. 

Laws, I teks yo' little han', 
Ain't it tendah ? bless de Ian' 

Bettah quit daihin' me. 
I's so lonesome by myse'f, 
'D ain't no fun in livin' lef ' ; 
Dis hyeah life's ez dull ez def : 

Bettah quit daihin' me. 

Whyn't you tek yo' han' erway ? 
Yass, I'll hoi' it- but I say 

Bettah quit daihin' me. 
Hol'in' han's is sholy fine. 
Seems lak dat's de weddin' sign. 
Wish you'd say dat you'd be mine ;- 

Dah you been daihin' me. 



286 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



SPEAKIN' AT DE COUT-HOUSE 

Dey been speakin' at de cou't-house, 

An' laws-a-massy me, 
'Twas de beatness kin' o' doin's 

Dat evah I did see. 
Of cose I had to be dah 

In de middle o' de crowd, 
An' I hallohed wid de othahs, 

Wen de speakah riz and bowed. 

I was kind o' disapp'inted 

At de smallness of de man, 
Case I'd allus pictered great folks 

On a mo' expansive plan ; 
But I t'ought I could respect him 

An' tek in de wo'ds he said, 
Fu' dey sho was somep'n knowin* 

In de bald spot on his haid. 

But hit did seem so't o' funny 

Aftah waitin' fu' a week 
Dat de people kep' on shoutin* 

So de man des couldn't speak ; 
De ho'ns dey blared a little, 

Den dey let loose on de drums, 
Some one tol' me dey was playin' 

" See de conkerin' hero comes." 

" Well," says I, " you all is white folks, 

But you's sutny actm' queer, 
What's de use of heroes comin' 

Ef dey cain't talk w'en dey's here ? " 
Aftah while dey let him open, 

An' dat man he waded in, 
An' he fit de wahs all ovah 

Winnin' victeries lak sin. 

W'en he come down to de present, 

Den he made de feathahs fly. 
He des waded in on money, 

An' he played de ta'iff high. 
An' he said de colah question, 

Hit was ovah, solved, an' done, 
Dat de dahky was his brothah, 

Evah blessed mothah's son. 

Well he settled all de trouble 
Dat's been pesterin' de Ian', 

Den he set down mid de cheerin' 
An* de playin' of de ban'. 



I was feelin' moughty happy 

'Twell I hyeahed somebody speak, 

" Well, dat's his side of de bus'ness, 
But you wait for Jones nex' week." 



BLACK SAMSON OF BRANDYWINE 

" In the fight at Brandywine, Black Samson, a 
giant negro armed with a scythe, sweeps his way 
thro' the red ranks. . . ." C. M. SKINNER'S 
" Myths and Legends of Our Own Land." 

Gray are the pages of record, 

Dim are the volumes of eld ; 
Else had old Delaware told us 

More that her history held. 
Told us with pride in the story, 

Honest and noble and fine, 
More of the tale of my hero, 

Black Samson of Brandywine. 

Sing of your chiefs and your nobles, 

Saxon and Celt and Gaul, 
Breath of mine ever shall join you, 

Highly I honor them all. 
Give to them all of their glory, 

But for this noble of mine, 
Lend him a tithe of your tribute, 

Black Samson of Brandywine. 

There in the heat of the battle, 

There in the stir of the fight, 
Loomed he, an ebony giant, 

Black as the pinions of night. 
Swinging his scythe like a mower 

Over a field of grain, 
Needless the care of the gleaners, 

Where he had passed amain. 

Straight through the human harvest, 

Cutting a bloody swath, 
Woe to you, soldier of Briton ! 

Death is abroad in his path. 
Flee from the scythe of the reaper, 

Flee while the moment is thine, 
None may with safety withstand him, 

Black Samson of Brandywine. 

Was he a freeman or bondman ? 

Was he a man or a thing ? 
What does it matter ? His brav'ry 

Renders him royal a king. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



287 



If he was only a chattel, 
Honor the ransom may pay 

Of the royal, the loyal black giant 
Who fought for his country that day. 

Noble and bright is the story, 

Worthy the touch of the lyre, 
Sculptor or poet should find it 

Full of the stuff to inspire. 
Beat it in brass and in copper, 

Tell it in storied line, 
So that the world may remember 

Black Samson of Brandywine. 

THE LOOKING-GLASS 

Dinah stan' befo' de glass, 

Lookin' moughty neat, 
An' huh purty shadder sass 

At huh haid an' feet. 
While she sasshay 'roun' an' bow, 
Smilin' den an' poutin' now, 
An' de lookin'-glass, I 'low 

Say : " Now, ain't she sweet ? " 

All she do, de glass it see, 

Hit des see, no mo', 
Seems to me, hit ought to be 

Drappin' on de flo*. 
She go w'en huh time git slack, 
Kissin' han's an' smilin' back, 
Lawsy, how my lips go smack, 

Watchin' at de do'. 

Wisht I was huh lookin'-glass, 
W'en she kissed huh han' ; 

Does you t'ink I'd let it pass, 
Settin' on de stan'? 

No ; I'd des' fall down an* break, 

Kin' o' glad 't uz fu' huh sake ; 

But de diffunce, dat whut make 
Lookin'-glass an' man. 



A MISTY DAY 

Heart of my heart, the day is chill, 
The mist hangs low o'er the wooded hill, 
The soft white mist and the heavy cloud 
The sun and the face of heaven shroud. 
The birds are thick in the dripping trees, 
That drop their pearls to the beggar breeze ; 



No songs are rife where songs are wont, 
Each singer crouches in his haunt. 

Heart of my heart, the day is chill, 
Whene'er thy loving voice is still, 
The cloud and mist hide the sky from me, 
Whene'er thy face I cannot see. 
My thoughts fly back from the chill with 
out, 
My mind in the storm drops doubt on 

doubt, 

No songs arise. Without thee, love, 
My soul sinks down like a frightened dove. 



DOUGLASS 

Ah, Douglass, we have fall'n on evil days, 
Such days as thou, not even thou didst 

know, 
W ; hen thee, the eyes of that harsh long 

ago 

Saw, salient, at the cross of devious ways, 

And all the country heard thee with amaze. 

Not ended then, the passionate ebb and 

flow, 

The awful tide that battled to and fro ; 
We ride amid a tempest of dispraise. 
Now, when the waves of swift dissension 

swarm, 

And Honor, the strong pilot, lieth stark, 
Oh, for thy voice high-sounding o'er the 

storm, 

For thy strong arm to guide the shiver 
ing bark, 

The blast-defying power of thy form, 
To give us comfort through the lonely 
dark. 



BOOKER T. WASHINGTON 

The word is writ that he who runs may 

read. 

What is the passing breath of earthly fame ? 
But to snatch glory from the hands of 

blame 

That is to be, to live, to strive indeed. 
A poor Virginia cabin gave the seed, 
And from its dark and lowly door there 

came 
A peer of princes in the world's acclaim, 



288 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



A master spirit for the nation's need. 
Strong, silent, purposeful beyond his kind, 
The mark of rugged force on brow and 

lip, 

Straight on he goes, nor turns to look be 
hind 
Where hot the hounds come baying at 

his hip ; 

With one idea foremost in his mind, 
Like the keen prow of some on-forging 
ship. 



THE MONK'S WALK 

This poem was written in autumn, at 
Washington, D. C., after the shadows of 
the death of his domestic peace had begun 
to fall. He sometimes spoke of becoming 
a priest of the Church, and this half- 
formed desire may be observed in several 
stanzas of the Monk's Walk. Reference 
to his henceforth lonely life is made thus 

" Is it living thus to live? 
Has life nothing more to give ? 
Ah, no more of smile or sigh 
Life, the world, and love, good-bye." 

The poem is one of a series of three 
whose direct inspiration was found in his 
discovery of a violet blooming in No 
vember. 

In this so bre garden close 
What has come and passed, who knows ? 
What red passion, what white pain 
Haunted this dini walk in vain ? 

Underneath the ivied wall, 
Where the silent shadows fall, 
Lies the pathway chill and damp 
Where the world-quit dreamers tramp. 

Just across, where sunlight burns, 
Smiling at the mourning ferns, 
Stand the roses, side by side, 
Nodding in their useless pride. 

Ferns and roses, who shall say 
What you witness day by day ? 
Covert smile or dropping eye, 
As the monks go pacing by. 



Has the novice come to-day 
Here beneath the wall to pray ? 
Has the young monk, lately chidden, 
Sung his lyric, sweet, forbidden ? 

Tell me, roses, did you note 
That pale father's throbbing throat ? 
Did you hear him murmur, " Love ! " 
As he kissed a faded glove ? 

Mourning ferns, pray tell me why 
Shook you with that passing sigh ? 
Is it that you chanced to spy 
Something in the Abbot's eye ? 

Here no dream, nor thought of sin, 
Where no worlding enters in ; 
Here no longing, no desire, 
Heat nor flame of earthly fire. 

Branches waving green above, 
Whisper naught of life nor love ; 
Softened winds that seem a breath, 
Perfumed, bring no fear of death. 

Is it living thus to live ? 
Has life nothing more to give ? 
Ah, no more of smile or sigh 
Life, the world, and love, good-bye. 

Gray, and passionless, and dim, 
Echoing of the solemn hymn, 
Lies the walk, 'twixt fern and rose, 
Here within the garden close. 



LOVE-SONG 

If Death should claim me for her own to 
day, 
And softly I should falter from your 

side, 
Oh, tell me, loved one, would my memory 

stay, 
And would my image in your heart 

abide ? 

Or should I be as some forgotten dream, 
That lives its little space, then fades en 
tire ? 
Should Time send o'er you its relentless 

stream, 

To cool your heart, and quench for aye 
love's fire ? 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



289 



I would not for the world, love, give you 

pain, 
Or ever compass what would cause you 

grief; 
And, oh, how well I know that tears are 

vain! 
But love is sweet, my dear, and life is 

brief; 

So if some day before you I should go 
Beyond the sound and sight of song and 

sea, 
'Twould give my spirit stronger wings to 

know 
That you remembered still and wept for 



SLOW THROUGH THE DARK 

Slow moves the pageant of a climbing 

race ; 
Their footsteps drag far, far below the 

height, 
And, unprevailing by their utmost 

might, 
Seem faltering downward from each hard 

won place. 
No strange, swift-sprung exception we ; we 

trace 
A devious way thro' dim, uncertain 

light, 
Our hope, through the long vistaed 

years, a sight 
Of that our Captain's soul sees face to 

face. 
Who, faithless, faltering that the road is 

steep, 

Now raiseth up his drear insistent cry ? 
Who stoppeth here to spend a while in 

sleep 
Or curseth that the storm obscures the 

sky? 
Heed not the darkness round you, dull 

and deep; 

The clouds grow thickest when the sum 
mit's nigh. 

THE MURDERED LOVER 

Say a mass for my soul's repose, my 

brother, 

Say a mass for my soul's repose, I need 
it, 



Lovingly lived we, the sons of one mother, 
Mine was the sin, but I pray you not 
heed it. 

Dark were her eyes as the sloe and they 

called me, 
Called me with voice independent of 

breath. 

God ! how my heart beat ; her beauty ap 
palled me, 

Dazed me, and drew to the sea-brink of 
death. 

Lithe was her form like a willow. She 

beckoned, 

What could I do save to follow and fol 
low, 
Nothing of right or result could be 

reckoned ; 

Life without her was unworthy and hol 
low. 



Ay, but I wronged thee, my brother, my 

brother ; 

Ah, but I loved her, thy beautiful wife. 
Shade of our father, and soul of our mother, 
Have I not paid for my love with my 
life? 

Dark was the night when, revengeful, I 

met ''ou, 

Deep in the heart of a desolate land. 
Warm was the life-blood which angrily 

wet you, 

Sharp was the knife that I felt from your 
hand. 

Wept you, oh, wept you, alone by the river, 

When my stark carcass you secretly sank. 

Ha, now I see that you tremble and 

shiver ; 

'Twas but rny spirit that passed when 
you shrank ! 

Weep not, oh, weep not, 'tis over v 'tis 

over ; 
Stir the dark weeds with the turn of the 

tide; 

Go, thou hast sent me forth, ever a rover, 
Rest and the sweet realm of heaven 
denied. 



290 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Say a mass for my soul's repose, my 

brother, 

Say a mass for my soul, I need it. 
Sin of mine was it, and sin of no other, 
Mine was it all, but I pray you not 
heed it. . 



PHILOSOPHY 

I been t'inkin' 'bout de preachah ; whut he 

said de othah night, 
'Bout hit bein' people's dooty, fu' to 

keep dey faces bright ; 
How one ought to live so pleasant dat 

ouah tempah never riles, 
Meetin' evahbody roun' us wid ouah 
very nicest smiles. 

Dat's all right, I ain't a-sputin' not a t'ing 

dat soun's lak fac', 
But you don't ketch folks a-grinnin' wid 

a misery in de back ; 
An' you don't fin' dema-smilin' w'en dey's 

hongry ez kin be, 

Leastways, dat's how human natur' allus 
seems to 'pear to me. 

We is mos* all putty likely fu' to have our 

little cares, 
An' I think we'se doin' fus' rate w'en 

we jes' go long and bears, 
Widout breakin' up ouah faces in a sickly 

so't o' grin, 

W'en we knows dat in ouah innards we 
is p'intly mad ez sin. 

Oh, dey's times fu' bein' pleasant an' fu' 

goin' smilin' roun', 
'Cause I don't believe in people allus 

totin' roun' a frown, 
But it's easy 'nough to titter w'en de stew 

is smokin' hot, 

But hit's mighty ha'd to giggle w'en 
dey's nuffin' in de pot. 



A PREFERENCE 

Mastah drink his ol' Made'a, 
Missy drink huh sherry wine, 

Ovahseah lak his whiskey, 
But dat othah drink is mine, 



Des' 'lasses an' watah, 'lasses an* 
watah,, 



W'en you git a steam in' hoe-cake 

On de table, go way, man ! 
'D ain't but one t'ing to go wid it, 
'Sides de gravy in de pan, 

Dat's 'lasses an' watah, 'lasses an' 
watah. 

W'en hit's 'possum dat you eatin', 

'Simmon beer is moughty sweet ; 
But fu' evahday consumin' 

'D aint' no mo'tal way to beat 

Des' 'lasses an' watah, 'lasses an' 
watah. 



W'y de bees is allus busy, 

An' ain' got no time to was'? 

Hit's beca'se dey knows de honey 

Dey's a makin', gwine to tas' 

Lak 'lasses an' watah, 'lasses an' 
watah. 



Oh, hit's moughty mil' an' soothin', 

An' hit don' go to yo' haid ; 
Dat's de reason I's a-backin* 
Up de othah wo'ds I said, 

"Des 'lasses an* watah, 'lasses an' 
watah." 



THE DEBT 

This is the debt I pay 
Just for one riotous day, 
Years of regret and grief, 
Sorrow without relief. 

Pay it I will to the end 
Until the grave, my friend, 
Gives me a true release 
Gives me the clasp of peace. 

Slight was the thing I bought, 
Small was the debt I thought, 
Poor was the loan at best 
God ! but the interest ! 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



291 



ON THE DEDICATION OF 
DOROTHY HALL 

TUSKEEGEE, ALA., APRIL 22, IQOI. 

Not to the midnight of the gloomy past, 
Do we revert to-day ; we look upon 

The golden present and the future vast 
Whose vistas show us visions of the 
dawn. 

Nor shall the sorrows of departed years 
The sweetness of our tranquil souls an 
noy, 
The sunshine of our hopes dispels the 

tears, 
And clears our eyes to see this later joy. 

Not ever in the years that God hath given 
Have we gone friendless down the 

thorny way, 
Always the clouds of pregnant black were 

riven 
By flashes from his own eternal day. 

The women of a race should be its pride ; 

We glory in the strength our mothers 

had, 
We glory that this strength was not denied 

To labor bravely, nobly, and be glad. 

God give to these within this temple here, 
Clear vision of the dignity of toil, 

That virtue in them may its blossoms rear 
Unspotted, fragrant, from the lowly soil. 

God bless the givers for their noble deed, 
Shine on them with the mercy of thy 

face, 
Who come with open hearts to help and 

speed 

The striving women of a struggling 
race. 



A ROADWAY 

Let those who will stride on their barren 
roads 

And prick themselves to haste with self- 
made goads, 

Unheeding, as they struggle day by day, 

If flowers be sweet or skies be blue .or 
gray: 



For me, the lone, cool way by purling 

brooks, 

The solemn quiet of the woodland nooks, 
A song-bird somewhere trilling sadly gay, 
A pause to pick a flower beside the way. 

BY RUGGED WAYS 

By rugged ways and thro' the night 
We struggle blindly towards the light ; 
And groping, stumbling, ever pray 
For sight of long delaying day. 
The cruel thorns beside the road 
Stretch eager points our steps to goad, 
And from the thickets all about 
Detaining hands reach threatening out. 

Deliver us, oh, Lord," we cry, 

Our hands uplifted to the sky. 

No answer save the thunder's peal, 

And onward, onward, still we reel. 

" Oh, give us now thy guiding light ; " 

Our sole reply, the lightning's blight. 

"Vain, vain," cries one, "in vain we 

call ; " 
But faith serene is over all. 

Beside our way the streams are dried, 
And famine mates us side by side. 
Discouraged and reproachful eyes 
Seek once again the frowning skies. 
Yet shall there come, spite storm and 

shock, 

A Moses who shall smite the rock, 
Call manna from the Giver's hand, 
And lead us to the promised land ! 

The way is dark and cold and steep, 

And shapes of horror murder sleep, 

And hard the unrelenting years ; 

But 'twixt our sighs and moans and tears, 

We still can smile, we still can sing, 

Despite the arduous journeying. 

For faith and hope their courage lend, 

And rest and light are at the end. 

LOVE'S SEASONS 

When the bees are humming in the hon 
eysuckle vine 

And the summer days are in their 
bloom, 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Then my love is deepest, oh, dearest 
heart of mine, 

When the bees are humming in the hon 
eysuckle vine. 

When the winds are moaning o'er the 

meadows chill and gray, 
And the land is dim with winter gloom, 
Then for thee, my darling, love will have 

its way, 
When the winds are moaning o'er the 

meadows chill and gray. 

In the vernal dawning with the starting of 

the leaf, 
In the merry-chanting time of spring, 

Love steals all my senses, oh, the happy- 
hearted thief! 

In the vernal morning with the starting of 
the leaf. 

Always, ever always, even in the autumn 

drear, 
When the day* are sighing out their 

grief, 
Thou art still my darling, dearest of the 

dear, 
Always, ever always, even in the autumn 

drear. 

TO A DEAD FRIEND 

It is as if a silver chord 

Were suddenly grown mute, 

And life's song with its rhythm warred 
Against a silver lute. 

It is as if a silence fell 

Where bides the garnered sheaf, 
And voices murmuring, " It is well," 

Are stifled by our grief. 

It is as if the gloom of night 

Had hid a summer's day, 
And willows, sighing at their plight, 

Bent low beside the way. 

For he was part of all the best 
That Nature loves and gives, 

And ever more on Memory's breast 
He lies and laughs and lives. 



TO THE SOUTH 

ON ITS NEW SLAVERY 

Heart of the Southland, heed me plead 
ing now, 

Who bearest, unashamed, upon my brow 
The long kiss of the loving tropic sun, 
And yet, whose veins with thy red current 
run. 

Borne on the bitter winds from every 

hand, 

Strange tales are flying over all the land, 
And Condemnation, with his pinions foul, 
Glooms in the place where broods the 

midnight owl. 

What art thou, that the world should point 

at thee, 
And vaunt and chide the weakness that 

they see ? 
There was a time they were not wont to 

chide ; 
Where is thy old, uncompromising pride ? 

Blood- washed, thou shouldst lift up thine 

honored head, 

White with the sorrow for thy loyal dead 
Who lie on every plain, on every hill, 
And whose high spirit walks the South 
land still : 

Whose infancy our mother's hands have 

nursed. 

Thy manhood, gone to battle unaccursed, 
Our fathers left to till th' reluctant field, 
To rape the soil for what she would not 

yield ; 

Wooing for aye, the cold unam'rous sod, 

Whose growth for them still meant a mas 
ter's rod ; 

Tearing her bosom for the wealth that 
gave 

The strength that made the toiler still a 
slave. 

Too long we hear the deep impassioned 

cry 
That echoes vainly to the heedless sky ; 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



293 



Too long, too long, the Macedonian call 
Falls fainting far beyond the outward wall, 

Within whose sweep, beneath the shadow 
ing trees, 

A slumbering nation takes its dangerous 
ease ; 

Too long the rumors of thy hatred go 

For those who loved thee and thy children 
so. 

Thou must arise forthwith, and strong, 

thou must 
Throw off the smirching of this baser 

dust, 

Lay by the practice of this later creed, 
And be thine honest self again indeed. 

There was a time when even slavery's 

chain 

Held in some joys to alternate with pain, 
Some little light to give the night relief, 
Some little smiles to take the place of 

grief. 



There was a time when, jocund as the 

day, 

The toiler hoed his row and sung his lay, 
Found something gleeful in the very air, 
And solace for his toiling everywhere. 



No more for him the master's eyes be 
bright, 

He has nor freedom's nor a slave's de 
light. 

What, was it all for naught, those awful 

years 
That drenched a groaning land with blood 

and tears ? 

Was it to leave this sly convenient hell, 
That brother fighting his own brother fell ? 

When that great struggle held the world 

in awe, 
And all the nations blanched at what they 

saw, 
Did Sanctioned Slavery bow its conquered 

head 
That this unsanctioned crime might rise 

instead ? 

Is it for this we all have felt the flame, 
This newer bondage and this deeper 

shame ? 

Nay, not for this, a nation's heroes bled, 
And North and South with tears beheld 

their dead. 



Oh, Mother South, hast thou forgot thy 

ways, 

Forgot the glory of thine ancient days, 
Forgot the honor that once made thee 

Now all is changed, within the rude j , , ^ ea '..... , ,, , , 

stockade ! stooped to this unhallowed estate ? 

A bondsman whom the greed of men has 

made 

Almost too brutish to deplore his plight, 
Toils hopeless on from joyless morn till 

night. 



For him no more the cabin's quiet rest, 
The homely joys that gave to labor zest ; 
No more for him the merry banjo's sound, 
Nor trip of lightsome dances footing 
round. 

For him no more the lamp shall glow at 

eve, 
Nor chubby children pluck him by the 

sleeve ; 



It cannot last, thou wilt come forth in 

might, 
A warrior queen full armored for the 

fight; 
And thou wilt take, e'en with thy spear in 

rest, 
Thy dusky children to thy saving breast. 



Till then, no more, no more the gladsome 

song, 
Strike only deeper chords, the notes oi 

wrong ; 
Till then, the sigh, the tear, the oath, the 

moan, 
Till thou, oh, South, and thine, come to 

thine own. 



294 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



ROBERT GOULD SHAW 

Why was it that the thunder voice of Fate 
Should call thee, studious, from the 

classic groves, 

Where calm-eyed Pallas with still foot 
step roves, 
And charge thee seek the turmoil of the 

state ? 

What bade thee hear the voice and rise 
elate, 

Leave home and kindred and thy spicy 

loaves, 
To lead th' unlettered and despised 

droves 

To manhood's home and thunder at the 
gate? 

Far better the slow blaze of Learning's 

light, 

The cool and quiet of her dearer fane, 
Than this hot terror of a hopeless fight, 

This cold endurance of the final pain, 
Since thou and those who with thee died 

for right 

Have died, the Present teaches, but in 
vain! 



ROSES 

Oh, wind of the spring-time, oh, free wind 

of May, 
When blossoms and bird-song are rife ; 

Oh, joy for the season, and joy for the day, 
That gave me the roses of life, of life, 
That gave me the roses of life. 

Oh, wind of the summer, sing loud in the 

night, 

When flutters my heart like a dove ; 
One came from thy kingdom, thy realm of 

delight, 

And gave me the roses of love, of love, 
And gave me the roses of love. 

Oh, wind of the winter, sigh low in thy 

grief, 
I hear thy compassionate breath ; 

I wither, I fall, like the autumn-kissed leaf, 
He gave me the roses of death, of death, 
He gave me the roses of death. 



WHEN SAM'L SINGS 

Hyeah dat singin' in de medders 

Whaih de folks is mekin' hay ? 
Wo'k is pretty middlin' heavy 

Fu' a man to be so gay. 
You kin tell dey's somep'n special 

F'om de canter o' de song ; 
Somep'n sholy pleasin' Sam'l, 

W'en he singin' all day long. 

Hyeahd him wa'blin' 'way dis mo'nih' 

'Fo' 'twas light enough to see. 
Seem lak music in de evenin' 

Allus good enough fu' me. 
But dat man commenced to hollah 

'Fo' he'd even washed his face ; 
Would you b'lieve, de scan'lous rascal 

Woke de birds erroun' de place ? 

Sam'l took a trip a-Sad'day ; 

Dressed hisse'f in all he had, 
Tuk a cane an' went a-strollin', 

Lookin' mighty pleased an' glad. 
Some folks don' know whut de mattah, 

But I do, you bet yo' life ; 
Sam'l smilin' an'a-smgin' 

'Case he been to see his wife. 

She live on de fu' plantation, 

Twenty miles erway er so ; 
But huh man is mighty happy 

Wen he git de chanst to go. 
Walkin' allus ain' de nices' 

Mo'nin' fin's him on de way 
But he allus comes back smilin', 

Lak his pleasure was his pay. 

Den he do a heap o' talkin', 

Do' he mos'ly kin' o' still, 
But de wo'ds, dey gits to runnin' 

Lak de watah fu' a mill. 
" Whut's de use o' havin' trouble, 

Whut's de use o' havin' strife ? " 
Dat's de way dis Sam'l preaches 

W'en he been to see his wife. 

An' I reckon I git jealous, 
Fu' I laffan' joke an' sco'n, 

An' I say, " Oh, go on, Sam'l, 
DCL go on, an' blow yo' ho'n" 




SAM'L TOOK A TRIP A-SAD'DAY 




DON' FIDDLE DAT CHUNE NO Mo' 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



297 



But I know dis comin' Sad'day, 
Dey'll be brighter days in life ; 

An' I'll be ez glad ez Sam'l 
Wen I go to see my wife. 



ITCHING HEELS 

Fu' de peace o' my eachin' heels, set 

down ; 

Don' fiddle dat chune no mo*. 
Don' you see how dat melody stubs me up 

An' baigs me to tek to de flo' ? 
Vou knows I's a Christian, good an' 

strong ; 

I wusship f om June to June ; 
My pra'^hs dey ah loud an' my hymns ah 

long : 
I baig you don' fiddle dat chune. 

J's a crick in my back an' a misery hyeah 

Whaih de j'ints's gittin' ol' an' stiff, 
But hit seems lak you brings me de bref 
o' my youf ; 

W'y, I's suttain I noticed a w'iff. 
Don' riddle dat chune no mo', my chile. 

Don't riddle dat chune no mo' ; 
I'll git up an' taih up dis groun' fu* a mile, 

An' den I'll be chu'ched fu' it, sho*. 

Oh, fiddle dat chune some mo', 1 say, 

An' fiddle it loud an' fas' : 
I's a youngstah ergin in de mi'st o' my sin ; 

De p'esent's gone back to de pas'. 
I'll dance to dat chune, so des fiddle 
erway ; 

I knows how de backslidah feels ; 
So fiddle it on 'twell de break o' de day 

Fu' de sake o' my eachin' heels. 



THE HAUNTED OAK 

Pray why are you so bare, so bare, 
Oh, bough of the old oak-tree ; 

And why, when I go through the shade 

you throw, 
Runs a shudder over me ? 

My leaves were green as the best, I trow, 
And sap ran free in my veins, 

But I saw in the moonlight dim and weird 
A guiltless victim's pains. 



I bent me down to hear his sigh ; 

I shook with his gurgling moan, 
And I trembled sore when they rode away, 

And left him here alone. 



They'd charged him with the old, old 
crime, 

And set him fast in jail : 
Oh, why does the dog howl all night long, 

And why does the night wind wail? 

He prayed his prayer and he swore his 
oath, 

And he raised his hand to the sky ; 
But the beat of hoofs smote on his ear, 

And the steady tread drew nigh. 

Who is it rides by night, by night, 

Over the moonlit road ? 
And what is the spur that keeps the pace, 

What is the galling goad ? 

And now they beat at the prison door, 

" Ho, keeper, do not stay ! 
We are friends of him whom you hold 
within, 

And we fain would take him away 

" From those who ride fast on our heels 

With mind to do him wrong; 
They have no care for his innocence, 

And the rope they bear is long." 

They have fooled the jailer with lying 
words, 

They have fooled the man with lies; 
The bolts unbar, the locks are drawn, 

And the great door open fiies. 

Now they have taken him from the jail, 

And hard and fast they ride, 
And the leader laughs low down in his 
throat, 

As they halt my trunk beside. 

Oh, the judge, he wore a mask of blacK, 

And the doctor one of white, 
And the minister, with his oldest son, 

Was curiously bedight. 



298 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Oh, foolish man, why weep you now ? 

'Tis but a little space, 
And the time will come when these shall 
dread 

The mem'ry of your face. 

I feel the rope against my bark, 

And the weight of him in my grain, 

I feel in the throe of his final woe 
The touch of my own last pain. 

And never more shall leaves come forth 
On a bough that bears the ban ; 

I am burned with dread, I am dried and 

dead, 
From the curse of a guiltless man. 

And ever the judge rides by, rides by, 

And goes to hunt the deer, 
And ever another rides his soul 

In the guise of a mortal fear. 

And ever the man he rides me hard, 

And never a night stays he ; 
For I feel his curse as a haunted bough, 

On the trunk of a haunted tree. 



WELTSCHMERTZ 

The poet once told this author that he 
wrote the poem " Weltschmertz " not long 
before his great sorrow came into his life, 
and in anticipated comradeship he could 
" sympathize " with the falling leaf, the 
bare tree, the bird leaving her wind-swept 
nest, and with those who had lost friends. 
His sorrow was to be greater than death, 
a living grief, an ever-present remorse. 

Foreknowing is one of the gifts of the 
poetic mind, and a poet is no more phi 
losopher than prophet or seer. Many times 
a beautiful concept will take possession of 
the mind only to be later verified in actual 
happenings. 

Every picture of Dunbar's Weltschmertz 
was afterwards painted on the canvas of 
Ounbar's own experience. Did not the 
falling leaf and the bare tree anti-type his 
deserted hearthstone? the wind-swept nest 



his home after the fires of anger had burned 
out and the two human singers who had 
sung there had flown to other climes? 
Were not his "unbidden tears" at tlie 
sight of a passing hearse, bearing a child 
to the cemetery, forewarnings of the time 
when he would come to feel as did his 
brother poet Riley upon the death of a 
frier d's baby 

" Oh, how much sadder I 
Who have no child to die ! " 

And so one might follow the poem 
through, and at the end decide that it 
proved a flawless prophecy. 

You ask why I am sad to-day, 
I have no cares, no griefs, you say ? 
Ah, yes, 'tis true, I have no grief 
But is there not the falling leaf? 

The bare tree there is mourning left 
With all of autumn's gray bereft ; 
It is not what has happened me, 
Think of the bare, dismantled tree. 

The birds go South along the sky, 
I hear their lingering, long good-bye. 
Who goes reluctant from my breast ? 
And yet the lone and wind-swept nest. 

The mourning, pale-flowered hearse goes 

by, 

Why does a tear come to my eye ? 
Is it the March rain blowing wild? 
I have no dead, I know no child. 

I am no widow by the bier 
Of him I held supremely dear. 
I have not seen the choicest one 
Sink down as sinks the westering sun. 

Faith unto faith have I beheld, 
For me, few solemn notes have swelled 
Love beckoned me out to the dawn, 
And happily I followed on. 

And yet my heart goes out to then. 
Whose sorrow is their diadem ; 
The falling leaf, the crying bird, 
The voice to be. all losU unheard 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



299 



Not mine, not mine, and yet too much 
The thrilling power of human touch, 
"While all the world looks on and scorns 
I wear another's crown of thorns. 

Count me a priest who understands 
The glorious pain of nail-pierced hands ; 
Count me a comrade of the thief 
Hot driven into late belief. 

Oh, mother's tear, oh, father's sigh, 
Oh, mourning sweetheart's last good-bye, 
I yet have known no mourning save 
Beside some brother's brother's grave. 



A LOVE SONG 

Ah, love, my love is like a cry in the night, 
A long, loud cry to the empty sky, 
The cry of a man alone in the desert, 
With hands uplifted, with parching lips, 

Oh, rescue me, rescue me, 
Thy form to mine arms, 
The dew of thy lips to my mouth, 
Dost thou hear me ? my call thro* the 
night ? 

Darling, I hear thee and answer, 

Thy fountain am I, 

All of the love of my soul will I bring to 

thee, 
All of the pains of my being shall wring 

to thee, 
Deep and forever the song of my loving 

shall sing to thee, 
Ever and ever thro' day and thro' night 

shall I cling to thee. 
Hearest thou the answer ? 
Darling, I come, I come. 



TO AN INGRATE 

This is to-day, a golden summer's day, 

And yet and yet 

My vengeful soul will not forget 
The past, forever now forgot, you say. 

From that half height where I had sadly 

climbed, 
I stretched my hand, 

17 



I lone in all that land, 
Down there, where, helpless, you were 
limed. 

Our fingers clasped, and dragging me a 

pace, 

You struggled up. 
It is a bitter Cup, 

That now for naught, you turn away your 
face. 

I shall remember this for aye and aye. 

Whate'er may come, 

Although ray lips are dumb, 
My spirit holds you to that yesterday. 



IN THE TENTS OF AKBAR 

In the tents of Akbar 

Are dole and grief to-day, 

For the flower of all the Indies 
Has gone the silent way. 

In the tents of Akbar 

Are emptiness and gloom, 

And where the dancers gather, 
The silence of the tomb. 

Across the yellow desert, 
Across the burning sands, 

Old Akbar wanders madly, 
And wrings his fevered hands. 

And ever makes his moaning 

To the unanswering sky, 
For Sutna, lovely Sutna, 

Who was so fair to die. 

For Sutna danced at morning, 
And Sutna danced at eve ; 

Her dusky eyes half hidden 
Behind her silken sleeve. 

Her pearly teeth out-glancing 

Between her coral lips, 
The tremulous rhythm of passion 

Marked by her quivering hips. 

As lovely as a jewel 

Of fire and dewdrop blent, 



300 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



So danced the maiden Sutna 
In gallant Akbar's tent. 

And one who saw her dancing, 
Saw her bosom's fall and rise 

Put all his body's yearning 
Into his lovelit eyes. 

Then Akbar came and drove him 

A jackal from his door, 
And bade him wander far and look 

On Sutna's face no more. 

Some day the sea disgorges, 
The wilderness gives back, 

Those half-dead who have wandered, 
Aimless, across its track. 

And he returned the lover, 
Haggard of brow and spent ; 

He found fair Sutna standing 
Before her master's tent. 

" Not mine, nor Akbar's, Sutna ! " 
He cried and closely pressed, 

And drove his craven dagger 
Straight to the maiden's breast. 

Oh, weep, oh, weep, for Sutna, 
So young, so dear, so fair, 

Her face is gray and silent 
Beneath her dusky hair. 

And wail, oh, wail, for Akbar, 
Who walks the desert sands, 

Crying aloud for Sutna, 

Wringing his fevered hands. 

In the tents of Akbar 

The tears of sorrow run, 
But the corpse of Sutna's slayer, 

Lies rotting in the sun. 



THE FOUNT OF TEARS 

All hot and grimy from the road, 
Dust gray from arduous years, 

I sat me down and eased my load 
Beside the Fount of Tears. 



The waters sparkled to my eye, 

Calm, crystal-like, and cool, 
And breathing there a restful sigh, 

I bent me to the pool. 

When, lo ! a voice cried : " Pilgrim, rise, 

Harsh tho' the sentence be, 
And on to other lands and skies 

This fount is not for thee. 

" Pass on, but calm thy needless fears, 

Some may not love or sin, 
An angel guards the Fount of Tears ; 

All may not bathe therein." 

Then with my burden on my back 

I turned to gaze awhile, 
First at the uninviting track, 

Then at the water's smile. 

And so I go upon my way, 

Thro'out the sultry years, 
But pause no more, by night, by day, 

Beside the Fount of Tears. 



LIFE'S TRAGEDY 

It may be misery not to sing at all 

And to go silent through the brimming 

day. 

It may be sorrow never to be loved, 
But deeper griefs than these beset the 
way. 

To have come near to sing the perfect song 
And only by a half-tone lost the key, 

There is the potent sorrow, there the grief, 
The pale, sad staring of life's tragedy. 

To have just missed the perfect love, 
Not the hot passion of untempered 

youth, 
But that which lays aside its vanity 

And gives thee, for thy trusting worship, 
truth 

This, this it is to be accursed indeed ; 

For if we mortals love, or if we sing, 
We count our joys not by the things we 

have, 

But by what kept us from the perfect 
thing. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



301 



DE WAY T'INGS COME 

De way t'ings come, hit seems to me, 
Is des' one monst'ous mystery ; 
De way hit seem to strike a man, 
Dey ain't no sense, dey ain't no plan ; 
Ef trouble sta'ts a pilin' down, 
It ain't no use to rage er frown, 
It ain't no use to strive er pray, 
Hit's mortal boun' to come dat way. 

Now, ef you's hongry, an' yo' plate 
Des' keep on sayin' to you, " Wait," 
Don't mek no diffunce how you feel, 
'Twon't do no good to hunt a meal, 
Fu' dat ah meal des' boun' to hide 
Ontwell de devil's satisfied, 
An' 'twell dey's somep'n by' to cyave 
You's got to ease yo'se'f an' sta've. 

But ef dey's co'n meal on de she'f 
You needn't bothah 'roun' yo'se'f, 
Somebody's boun' to amble in 
An' 'vite you to dey co'n meal bin ; 
An' ef you's stuffed up to de froat 
Wid co'n er middlin', fowl er shoat, 
Des' look out an' you'll see fu' sho 
A 'possum faint befo' yo' do*. 

De way t'ings happen, huhuh, chile, 

Dis worP 's done puzzled me one w'ile ; 

I's mighty skeered I'll fall in doubt, 

I des' won't try to reason out 

De reason why folks strive an' plan 

A dinnah fu' a full-fed man, 

An' shet de do' an' cross de street 

F'om one dat raally needs to eat. 



NOON 

Shadder in de valley 
Sunlight on de hill, 
Sut'ny wish dat locus' 
Knowed how to be still. 
Don't de heat already 
Mek a body hum, 
'Dout dat insec' sayin' 
Hottah days to come ? 

Fiel' 's a shinin' yaller 
Wid de bendin' grain, 



Guinea hen a callin', 
Now's de time fu' rain ; 
Shet yo' mouf, you rascal, 
Wha' 's de use to cry ? 
You do' see no rain clouds 
Up dah in de sky. 

Dis hyeah sweat's been po'in* 
Down my face sence dawn ; 
Ain't hit time we's hyeahin* 
Dat ah dinnah ho'n ? 
Go on, Ben an' Jaspah, 
Lif ' yo' feet an' fly, 
Hit out fu' de shadder 
Fo' I drap an' die. 

Hongry, lawd a' mussy, 
Hongry as a baih, 
Seems lak I hyeah dinnah 
Callin' evahwhaih ; 
Daih's de ho'n a blowin' ! 
Let dat cradle swing, 
One mo' sweep, den da'kies, 
Beat me to de spring ! 



AT THE TAVERN 

A lilt and a swing, 

And a ditty to sing, 
Or ever the night grow old ; 

The wine is within, 

And I'm sure 'twere a sin 
For a soldier to choose to be cold, my dear, 
For a soldier to choose to be cold. 

We're right for a spell, 

But the fever is well, 
No thing to be braved, at least ; 

So bring me the wine ; 

No low fever in mine, 
For a drink is more kind than a priest, my 

dear, 
For a drink is more kind than a priest. 



DEATH 

Storm and strife and stress, 
Lost in a wilderness, 
Groping to find a way, 
Forth to the haunts of day 



302 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Sudden a vista peeps, 
Out of the tangled deeps, 
Only a point the ray 
But at the end is day. 

Dark is the dawn and chill. 
Daylight is on the hill, 
Night is the flitting breath, 
Day rides the hills of death. 



NIGHT, DIM NIGHT 

Night, dim night, and it rains, my love, it 
rains, 

(Art thou dreaming of me, I wonder) 
The trees are sad, and the wind complains, 

Outside the rolling of the thunder, 
And the beat against the panes. 

Heart, my heart, thou art mournful in the 
rain, 

(Are thy redolent lips a-quiver?) 
My soul seeks thine, doth it seek in vain ? 

My love goes surging like a river, 
Shall its tide bear naught save pain ? 



LYRICS OF LOVE AND SORROW 

These sonnets were all born of Mr. Dun- 
bar's own great love and his sorrow at the 
loss of it. One can readily picture the 
poet, bereft of the woman he loved so pas 
sionately the " Alice," of his youthful 
poem, and the wife of earlier years, sitting 
alone some " winter's midnight " with his 
bruised heart on " Heart-break Hill." 

The world's sweetest music and its 
greatest poems have been the aftermaths 
of human heart-breaks, and these little 
fragments, so perfect in metrical form, so 
melodious and so masterly are no excep 
tion to the rule. He wrote every word 
with a mixture of life-blood and bitter 
tears. 



Love is the light of the world, my dear, 
Heigho, but the world is gloomy ; 

The light has failed and the lamp down 

hurled, 
Leaves only darkness to me. 



Love is the light of the world, my dear, 
Ah me, but the world is dreary ; 

The night is down, and my curtain furled 
But I cannot sleep, though weary. 

Love is the light of the world, my dear, 

Alas for a hopeless hoping, 
When the flame went out in the breeze 
that swirled, 

And a soul went blindly groping. 



II 

The light was on the golden sands, 

A' glimmer on the sea ; 
My soul spoke clearly to thy soul, 

Thy spirit answered me. 

Since then the light that gilds the sands, 

And glimmers on the sea, 
But vainly struggles to reflect 

The radiant soul of thee. 



Ill 

The sea speaks to me of you 

All the day long; 
Still as I sit by its side 

You are its song. 

The sea sings to me of you 

Loud on the reef; 
Always it moans as it sings, 

Voicing my grief. 

IV 

My dear love died last night; 

Shall I clothe her in white ? 
My passionate love is dead, 

Shall I robe her in red ? 
But nay, she was all untrue, 

She shall not go drest in blue; 
Still my desolate love was brave, 

Unrobed let her go to her grave. 



There are brilliant heights of sorrow 
That only the few may know ; 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



303 



And the lesser woes of the world, like 
waves, 

Break noiselessly, far below. 
I hold for my own possessing, 

A mount that is lone and still 
The great high place of a hopeless grief, 

And I call it my " Heart-break Hill." 
And once on a winter's midnight 

I found its highest crown, 
And there in the gloom, my soul and I, 

Weeping, we sat us down. 

But now when I seek that summit 

We are two ghosts that go ; 
Only two shades of a thing that died, 

Once in the long ago. 
So I sit me down in the silence, 

And say to my soul, " Be still," 
So the world may not know we died that 
night, 

From weeping on " Heart-break Hill." 



A BOY'S SUMMER SONG 

'Tis fine to play 

In the fragrant hay, 
And romp on the golden load; 

To ride old Jack 

To the barn and back, 
Or tramp by a shady road. 

To pause and drink, 

At a mossy brink ; 
Ah, that is the best of joy, 

And so I say 

On a summer's day? 
What's so fine as being a boy? 
Ha, Ha! 

With line and hook 

By a babbling brook, 
The fisherman's sport we ply ; 

And list the song 

Of the feathered throng 
That flit in the branches nigh. 

At last we strip 

For a quiet dip ; 
Ah, that is the best of joy. 

For this I say 

On a summer's day, 
"What's so fine as being a boy? 
Ha, Ha! 



THE SAND-MAN 

I know a man 

With face of tan, 
But who is ever kind ; 

Whom girls and boys 

Leave games and toys 
Each eventide to find. 

When day grows dim, 
They watch for him, 

He comes to place his claim; 
He wears the crown 
Of Dreaming-town ; 

The sand-man is his name. 

When sparkling eyes 

Droop sleepywise 
And busy lips grow dumb; 

When little heads 

Nod towards the beds, 
We know the sand-man's come. 



JOHNNY SPEAKS 

The sand-man he's a jolly old fellow, 
His face is kind and his voice is mellow, 
But he makes your eyelids as heavy as 

lead, 

And then you got to go off to bed ; 
I don't think I like the sand-man. 

But I've been playing this livelong day; 
It does make a fellow so tired to play ! 
Oh, my, I'm a-yawning right here be- 

fore ma, 

I'm the sleepiest fellow that ever you saw. 
I think I do like the sand-man. 



WINTER SONG 

Oh, who would be sad tho' the sky be 

a-graying, 
And meadow and woodlands are empty 

and bare ; 
For softly and merrily now there come 

playing, 

The little white birds thro* the winter- 
kissed air. 



304 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



The squirrel's enjoying the rest of the 

thrifty, 
He munches his store in the old hollow 

tree; 
Tho* cold is the blast and the snowflakes 

are drifty 

He fears the white flock not a whit more 
than we. 

Chorus : 

Then heigho for the flying snow ! 
Over the whitened roads we go, 

With pulses that tingle, 

And sleigh-bells a-j ingle 
For winter's white birds here's a cheery 
heigho ! 

THE FOREST GREETING 

Good hunting ! aye, good hunting, 

Wherever the forests call ; 
But ever a heart beats hot with fear, 

And what of the birds that fall ? 

Good hunting ! aye, good hunting, 
Wherever the north winds blow ; 
But what of the stag that calls for his 

mate? 
And what of the wounded doe ? 

Good hunting ! aye, good hunting, 
And ah ! we are bold and strong ; 

But our triumph call through the forest 

hall 
Is a brother's funeral song. 

For we are brothers ever, 

Panther and bird and bear ; 
Man and the weakest that fear his face, 

Born to the nest or lair. 

Yes, brothers, and who shall judge us ? 

Hunters and game are we ; 
But who gave the right for me to smite ? 

Who boasts when he smiteth me ? 

Good hunting ! aye, good hunting, 

And dim is the forest track ; 
But the sportsman Death comes striding 
on : 

Brothers, the way is black. 



A CHRISTMAS FOLKSONG 

De win' is blowin' wahmah, 

An hit's blowin' Pom de bay; 
Dey's a so't o' mist a-risin' 

All erlong de meddah way ; 
Dey ain't a hint o' frostin' 

On de groun' ner in de sky, 
An' dey ain't no use in hopin 1 
Dat de snow'll 'mence to fly. 

It's goin' to be a green ChristmaSt 

An' sad de day fu' me. , 
I wish dis was de las' one 
Dat evah I should see. 

Dey's dancin' in de cabin, 

Dey's spahkin' by de tree ; 
But dancin' times an' spahkin' 

Are all done pas' fur me. 
Dey's feastin' in de big house, 
Wid all de windahs wide 
Is dat de way fu' people 
To meet de Christmas-tide ? 

It's goin' to be a green Christmas, 

No mattah what you say. 
Dey's us dat will remembah 
An' grieve de comin' day. 

Dey's des a bref o' dampness 

A-clingin' to my cheek ; 
De aihs been dahk an' heavy 
An' threatenin' fu' a week, 
But not wid signs o' wintah, 

Dough wintah'd seem so deah 
De wintah's out o' season, 
An' Christmas eve is heah. 

It's goin' to be a green Christmas, 

An' oh, how sad de day ! 
Go ax de hongry chu'chya'd, 
An' see what hit will say. 

Dey's Allen on de hillside, 

An' Marfy in de plain ; 
Fu' Christmas was like spring-time, 

An' come wid sun an' rain. 
Dey's Ca'line, John, an' Susie, 

Wid only dis one lef ' : 
An' now de curse is comin' 
Wid murder in hits bref. 

It's goin' to be a green Christmas 
Des hyeah my words an' see : 
Befo* de summah beckons 
Dey's many'll weep wid me. 







IT'S COIN' TO BE A GREEN CHRISTMAS 




Wen You Says Yo' "Now! 
Lay Me " 






OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



307 



SCAMP 

Ain't it nice to have a mammy 

Wen you kin' o' tiahed out 
Wid a-playin' in de meddah, 

An' a-runnin' roun' about 
Till hit's made you mighty hongry, 

An' yo' nose hit gits to know 
What de smell means dat's a-comin' 

F'om de open cabin do' ? 
She wash yo' face, 
An' mek yo' place, 

You's hongry as a tramp ; 
Den hit's eat you suppah right away, 

You sta'vin' little scamp. 

Wen you's full o' braid an' bacon, 

An' dey ain't no mo' to eat, 
An' de lasses dat's a-stickin' 

On yo' face ta'se kin' o' sweet, 
Don' you t'ink hit's kin' o' pleasin 

Fu' to have som'body neah 
Dat'll wipe yo' han's an' kiss you 

Fo' dey HP you Pom yo' cheah ? 
To smile so sweet, 
An' wash yo' feet, 

An' leave 'em co'l an' damp ; 
Den hit's come let me undress you, now 

You lazy little scamp. 

Don' yo' eyes git awful heavy, 

An' yo' lip git awful slack, 
Ain't dey som'p'n' kin' o' weaknin' 

In de backbone of yo' back ? 
Don' yo' knees feel kin' o' trimbly, 

An' yo' head go bobbin' roun', 
Wen you says yo' " Now I lay me," 

An' is sno'in' on de " down " ? 
She kiss yo' hose, 
She kiss yo' toes, 

An' den tu'n out de lamp, 
Den hit's creep into yo' trunnel baid, 

You sleepy little scamp. 



THE LILY OF THE VALLEY 

Sweetest of the flowers a-blooming 
In the fragrant vernal days 

Is the Lily of the Valley 
With its soft, retiring ways. 



Well, you chose this humble blossom 
As the nurse's emblem flower, 

Who grows more like her ideal 
Every day and every hour. 

Like the Lily of the Valley 

In her honesty and worth, 
Ah, she blooms in truth and virtue 

In the quiet nooks of earth. 

Tho' she stands erect in honor 

When the heart of mankind bleeds, 

Still she hides her own deserving 
In the beauty of her deeds. 

In the silence of the darkness 

Where no eye may see and know, 

There her footsteps shod with mercy, 
And fleet kindness come and go. 

Not amid the sounds of plaudits, 

Nor before the garish day, 
Does she shed her soul's sweet perfume, 

Does she take her gentle way. 

But alike her ideal flower, 
With its honey-laden breath, 

Still her heart blooms forth its beauty 
In the valley shades of death. 



ENCOURAGED 

This dainty verse was inscribed to a 
friend, who through his last years, was 
staunch and real and true, who understood 
him, scolded him when he needed it, 
praised him when he deserved it, and 
whose love was a ray of sunshine, whole 
some, and warm and bright. Ever appre 
ciative, he thanked his friend in this four- 
lined bit of rerse. 

Because you love me I have much 

achieved, 
Had you despised me then I must have 

failed, 
But since I knew you trusted and 

believed, 
I could not disappoint you and so prevailed. 



308 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



TO J. Q. 

What are the things that make life bright ? 

A star gleam in the night. 
What hearts us for the coming fray ? 

The dawn tints of the day. 
What helps to speed the weary mile ? 

A brother's friendly smile. 
What turns o' gold the evening gray ? 

A flower beside the way. 



DIPLOMACY 

Tell your love where the roses blow, 

And the hearts of the lilies quiver, 
Not in the city's gleam and glow, 

But down by a half-sunned river. 
Not in the crowded ballroom's glare, 

That would be fatal, Marie, Marie, 
How can she answer you then and there ? 

So come then and stroll with me, my 
dear, 

Down where the birds call, Marie, 
Marie. 



THE PLANTATION CHILD'S 
LULLABY 

Wintah time hit comin' 

Stealin' thoo de night ; 
Wake up in the mo'nin' 

Evaht'ing is white ; 
Cabin lookin' lonesome 

Standin' in de snow, 
Meks you kin' o' nervous, 

Wen de win' hit blow. 

Trompin' back from feedin', 

Col' an' wet an' blue, 
Homespun jacket ragged, 

Win' a-blowin' thoo. 
Cabin lookin' cheerful, 

Unnerneaf de do 1 , 
Yet you kin' o' keerful 

W'en de win' hit blow. 

Hickory log a-blazin' 

Light a-lookin' red, 
Faith o' eyes o' peepin' 

F'om a trun'le bed, 



Little feet a-patterin* 
Cleak across de flo' ; 

Bettah had be keerful 
W'en de win' hit blow. 

Suppah done an' ovah, 

Evaht'ing is still ; 
Listen to de snowman 

Slippin' down de hill. 
Ashes on de fiah, 

Keep it wa'm but low. 
What's de use o' keerin' 

Ef de win' do blow ? 

Smoke house full o' bacon, 

Brown an' sweet an' good j 
Taters in de cellah, 

'Possum roam de wood ; 
Little baby snoozin' 

Des ez ef he know. 
What's de use o' keerin' 

Ef de win' do blow ? 



WADIN' IN DE CRICK 

Days git wa'm an' wa'mah, 

School gits mighty dull, 
Seems lak dese hyeah leachahs 

Mus' feel mussiful. 
Hockey's wrong, I know it 

Ain't no gent'man's trick ; 
But de aih's a-callin', 

" Come on to de crick." 

Dah de watah's gu'glin* 

Ovah shiny stones, 
Des hit's ve'y singin' 

Seems to soothe yo' bone*. 
Wat's de use o' waitin', 

Go on good an' quick : 
Dain't no fun lak dis hyeah 

Wadin' in de crick. 

Wat dat jay-bu'd sayin' ? 

Bettah shet yo' haid, 
Fus' t'ing dat you fin' out, 

You'll be layin' daid. 
Jay bu'ds sich a tattlah, 

Des seem lak his trick 
Fu' to tell on folkses 

Wadin' in'de crick. 




DAH DE WATAH'S GU'GLIN' 




WHUT is MAMMY COOKIN' 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



Wilier boughs a-bendin', 

Hidin' of de sky, 
Wavin' kin' o' frien'ly 

Ez de win' go by, 
Elum trees a-shinin',' 

Dahk an' green an' thick, 
Seem to say, " 1 see yo' 

Wadin' in de crick." 

But de trees don' chattah, 

Dey des look an' sigh 
Lak hit's kin' o' peaceful 

Des a bein' nigh, 
An' yo' t'ank yo' Mastah 

Dat dey trunks is thick 
W'en yo' mammy fin's you 

Wadin' in de crick. 

Den yo' run behin' dem 

Lak yo' scaihed to def, 
Mammy come a-flyin', 

Mos' nigh out o' bref ; 
But she set down gentle 

An' she drap huh stick, 
An* fus' t'ing, dey's mammy 

Wadin' in de crick. 



CURIOSITY 

Mammy's in de kitchen, an' de do' is shet ; 
All de pickaninnies climb a.n' tug an' 

sweat, 

Gittin' to de winder, stickin' dah lak flies, 
Evah one ermong us des all nose an' eyes. 
" Whut's she cookin', Isaac ? " " Whut's 

she cookin', Jake ? " 
" Is it sweet pertaters ? Is hit pie er 

cake ? " 
But we couldn't mek out even whah we 

stood 
Whut was mammy cookin' dat could smell 

so good. 

Mammy spread de winder, an' she frown 

an' frown. 
How de pickaninnies come a-tumblin' 

down ! 
Den she say : " Ef you-all keeps a-peepin' 

in, 
How I'se gwine to whup you, my! 't 'ill 

be a sin ! 



Need n' come a-sniffin' an' a-nosin' hyeah, 
'Ca'se I knows my business, nevah feah." 
Won't somebody tell us how I wish dey 

would ! 
Whut is mammy cookin' dat it smells so 

good? 

We know she means business, an' we das- 
sent stay, 

Dough it's mighty tryin' fuh to go erway ; 

But we goes a-troopin' down de ol' wood- 
track 

'Twell dat steamin' kitchen brings us 
stealin' back, 

Climbin' an' a-peepin' so's to see inside. 

Whut on earf kin mammy be so sha'p to 
hide ? 

I'd des up an' tell folks w'en I knowed 1 
could, 

Ef I was a-cookin' t'ings dat smelt so 
good. 

Mammy in de oven, an' I see huh smile ; 
Moufs mus' be a-wat'rin' roun' hyeah fuh 

a mile ; 

Den we almos' hollah ez we hu'ies down, 
'Ca'se hit's apple dumplin's, big an' fat 

an' brown ! 
W'en de do' is opened, solemn lak an* 

slow, 

Wislit you see us settin' all dah in a row 
Innercent an' p'opah, des lak chillun 

should 
W'en dey mammy's cookin' t'ings dat 

smell so good. 



OPPORTUNITY 

Granny's gone a-visitin', 

Seen huh git huh shawl 
W'en I was a hidin' down 

Hime de gyahden wall.* 
Seen huh put her bonnet on, 

Seen huh tie de strings, 
An' I'se gone to dreamin' now 

'Bout dem cakes an' t'ings. 

On de she'f behime de do' 
Mussy, what a feas' 1 



312 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Soon ez she gits out o' sight, 

1 kin eat in peace. 
I bin watchin' fu' a week 

Des fu' dis hyeah chance. 
Mussy, w'en I gits in daih, 

I'll des sholy dance. 



Lemon pie an' gingah-cake, 

Let me set an' t'mk 
Vinegah an' sugah, too, 

Dat'll mek a drink ; 
Ef dey's one t'ing dat I loves 

Mos' pu'ticlahly, 
It is eatin' sweet t'ings an' 

A-drinkin' Sangaree. 



Lawdy, won' po' granny raih 

Wen she see de she'f; 
W'en I t'ink erbout huh face, 

I's mos' 'shamed myse'f. 
Well, she gone, an' hyeah I is, 

Back behime de do' 
Look hyeah ! gran' 'sdone 'spectedme, 

Dain't no sweets no mo'. 



Evah sweet is hid erway, 

Job des done up brown ; 
Pusson t'ink dat some un fought 

Dey was t'eves erroun' ; 
Dat des breaks my heart in two, 

Oh, how bad I feel ! 
Des to t'ink my own gramma 

B'lieved dat I 'u'd steal ! 



TWILIGHT 

'Twixt a smile and a tear, 

'Twixt a song and a sigh, 
Twixt the day and the dark, 
When the night draweth nigh. 



Ah, sunshine may fade 
From the heavens above, 

No twilight have we 
To the day of our love. 



THE FISHER CHILD'S LULLABY 

The wind is out in its rage to-night, 

And your father is far at sea. 
The rime on the window is hard and 

white 

But dear, you are near to me. 
Heave ho, weave low, 

Waves of the briny deep ; 
Seethe low and breathe low, 
But sleep you, my little one, 
sleep, sleep. 

The little boat rocks in the cove no more, 

But the flying sea-gulls wail; 
I peer through the darkness that wraps 

the shore, 

For sight of a home set sail. 
Heave ho, weave low, 

Waves of the briny deep ; 
Seethe low and breathe low, 
But sleep you, my little one, 
sleep, sleep. 

Ay, lad of mine, thy father may die 

In the gale that rides the sea, 
But we'll not believe it, not you and I, 
Who mind us of Galilee. 
Heave ho, weave low, 

Waves of the briny deep ; 
Seethe low and breathe low, 
But sleep you, my little one, 
sleep, sleep. 



FAITH 

I's a-gittin' weary of de way dat people 

do, 
De folks dat's got dey 'ligion in dey fiah- 

place an' flue; 
Dey's allus scmep'n' comin' so de spit'll 

have to 'urn, 
An' hit tain't no p'oposition fu' to mke de 

hickor '^u'n. 
Ef de sweet pertater fails us an* de 

go'geous yallah yam, 
We kin tek a bit o' comfo't f 'om ouah sto' 

o' summah jam. 
W'en de snow hit git to flyin', dat's de 

Mastah's own desiah, 
De Lawd'll run de wintah an' yo' 

mammy 'H run de fiah. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



313 



I ain* skeered because de win* hit staht 

to raih and blow, 
I ain't bothahed w'en he come er rattlin' 

at de do', 
Let him taih hisse't an' shout, let him 

blow an' bawl, 

Dat's de time de branches shek an' bresh- 
wood 'mence to fall. 

Wen de sto'm er railin' an' de shettahs 
blowin' 'bout, 

Dat de time de fiahplace crack hits wel 
come out. 

Tain' my livin' business fu' to trouble ner 
enquiah, 

De Lawd'll min' de wintah an' my 
mammy'll min' de fiah. 

Ash-cake allus gits ez brown w'en 

February's hyeah 
Ez it does in bakin' any othah time o' 

yeah. 
De bacon smell ez callin'-like, de kittle 

rock an' sing, 
De same way in de wintah dat dey do it 

in de spring ; 
Dey ain't no use in mopin' 'round an' 

lookin' mad an' glum 
Erbout de wintah season, fu' hit's des 

plumb boun' to come 

An' ef it comes to runnin' t'ings I'swillin' 

to retiah, 
De Lawd'll min' de wintah an' my 

mammy'll min' de fiah. 



THE FARM CHILD'S LULLABY 

Oh, the little bird is rocking in,the cradle 

of the wind, 

And it's bye, my little wee one, bye ; 
The harvest all is gathered and the pippins 

all are binned ; 
Bye, my little wee one, bye ; 
The little rabbit's hiding in the golden 

shock of corn, 
The thrifty squirrel's laughing bunny's 

idleness to scorn ; 
You are smiling with the angels in your 

slumber, smile till morn ; 
So it's bye, my little wee one, bye. 



There'll be plenty in the cellar, there'll be 

plenty on the shelf; 
Bye, my little wee one, bye ; 
There'll be goodly store of sweetings for a 

dainty- little elf; 
Bye, my little wee one, bye. 
The snow may be a-flying o'er the meadow 

and the hill, 
The ice has checked the chatter of the 

little laughing rill, 
But in your cosey cradle you are warm and 

happy still; 
So bye, my little wee one, bye. 

Why, the Bob White thinks the snowflake 

is a brother to his song; 
Bye, my little wee one, bye ; 
And the chimney sings the sweeter when 

the wind is blowing strong; 
Bye my little wee one, bye ; 
The granary's overflowing, full is cellar, 

crib, and bin, 
The wood has paid its tribute and the ax 

has ceased its din ; 
The winter may not harm you when you're 

sheltered safe within; 
So bye, my little wee one, bye. 



THE PLACE WHERE THE RAIN- 
BOW ENDS 

There's a fabulous story 
Full of splendor and glory, 

That Arabian legends transcends ; 
Of the wealth without measure, 
The coffers of treasure, 

At the place where the rainbow ends. 

Oh, many have sought it, 
And all would have bought it, 

With the blood we so recklessly 

spend ; 

But none has uncovered, 
The gold, nor discovered 

The spot at the rainbow's end. 

They have sought it in battle, 
And e'en where the rattle 

Of dice with man's blasphemy 
blends ; 



314 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



But howe'er persuasive, 
It still proves evasive, 
This place where the rainbow ends. 

I own for my pleasure, 
I yearn not for treasure, 

Though gold has a power it lends ; 
And I have a notion, 
To find without motion, 

The place where the rainbow ends. 

The pot may hold pottage, 
The place be a cottage, 

That a humble contentment defends, 
Only joy fills its coffer, 
But spite of the scoffer, 

There's the place where the rainbow 
ends. 

Where care shall be quiet, 
And love shall run riot, 

And I shall find wealth in my 

friends ; 

Then truce to the story, 
Of riches and glory ; 

There's the place where the rainbow 
ends. 



HOPE 

De dog go howlin' 'long de road, 
De night come shiverin' down ; 

My back is tiahed of its load, 
I cain't be fu' f 'om town. 

No mattah ef de way is long, 

My haht is swellin' wid a song, 
No mattah 'bout de frownin' skies, 
I'll soon be home to see my Lize. 

My shadder staggah on de way, 

It's monst'ous col' to-night ; 
But I kin hyeah my honey say 

" W'y bless me if de sight 
O' you ain't good fu' my so' eyes." 
(Dat talk's dis lak my lady Lize) 

I's so'y case de way was long 

But Lawd you bring me love an' song. 

No mattah ef de way is long, 

An' ef I trimbles so' 
I knows de fiah's burnin' strong, 



Behime my Lizy's do'. 
An' daih my res' an' joy shell be, 
Whaih my ol' wife's awaitin' me 
Why what I keer fu' stingin' bias', 
I see huh windah light at las'. 



APPRECIATION 

My muvver's ist the nicest one 

'At ever lived wiz folks ; 
She lets you have ze mostes' fun, 

An' laffs at all your jokes. 

I got a ol' maid auntie, too, 

The worst you ever saw ; 
Her eyes ist bore you throu# T an 
through, 

She ain't a bit like ma. 

She's ist as slim as slim can be, 
An' when you want to slide 

Down on ze balusters, w'y she 
Says 'at she's harrified. 

She ain't as nice as Uncle Ben, 

What says 'at little boys 
Won't never grow to be big men 

Unless they're fond of noise. 

But muvver's nicer zan 'em all, 
She calls you, " precious lamb," 

An' lets you roll your ten-pin ball, 
An' spreads your bread wiz jam. 

An' when you're bad, she ist looks sarf 
You fink she's goin' to cry ; 

An' when she don't you're awful glad, 
An' den you're good, oh, my ! 

At night, she take ze softest hand, 

An' lays it on your head, 
An' says " Be off to Sleepy-Land 

By way o' trundle-bed." 

So when you fink what muvver knevi 

An' aunts an' uncle tan't, 
It skeers a feller ; ist suppose 

His muvver 'd been a aunt. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



315 



DAY 

The gray dawn on the mountain top 

Is slow to pass away. 
Still lays him by in sluggish dreams, 

The golden God of day. 

And then a light along the hills, 
Your laughter silvery gay r 

The Sun God wakes, a bluebird trills, 
You come and it is day. 



TO DAN 

Step me now a bridal measure, 
Work give way to love and leisure, 
Hearts be free and hearts be gay 
Doctor Dan doth wed to-day. 

Diagnosis, cease your squalling - 
Check that scalpel's senseless bawling, 
Put that ugly knife away 
Doctor Dan doth wed to-day. 

'Tis no time for things unsightly, 
Life's the day and life goes lightly ; 
Science lays aside her sway 
Love rules Dr. Dan to-day. 

Gather, gentlemen and ladies, 
For the nuptial feast now made is, 
Swing your garlands, chant your lay 
For the pair who wed to-day. 

Wish them happy days and many, 
Troubles few and griefs not any, 
Lift your brimming cups and say 
God bless them who wed to-day. 

Then a cup to Cupid daring, 
Who for conquest ever faring, 
With his arrows dares assail 
E'en a doctor's coat of mail. 

So with blithe and happy hymning 
And with harmless goblets brimming, 
Dance a step musicians play 
Doctor Dan doth wed to-day. 



WHAT'S THE USE 

What's the use o' folks a-frownin* 
When the way's a little rough ? 

Frowns lay out the road fur smilin' 
You'll be wrinkled soon enough. 
What's the use ? 

What's the use o : folks a-sighin' ? 

It's an awful waste o' breath, 
An" a body can't stand wastin' 

What he needs so bad in death. 
What's the use ? 

What's the use o' even weepin'? 

Might as well go long an' smile. 
Life, our longest, strongest arrow, 

Only lasts a little while. 
What's the use ? 



A LAZY DAY 

The trees bend down along the stream, 
Where anchored swings my tiny boat. 

The day is one to drowse and dream 
And list the thrush's throttling note. 

When music from his bosom bleeds 

Among the river's rustling reeds. 

No ripple stirs the placid pool, 
When my adventurous line is cast, 

A truce to sport, while clear and cool, 
The mirrored clouds slide softly past. 

The sky gives back a blue divine, 

And all the world's wide wealth is mine. 

A pickerel leaps, a bow of light, 

The minnows shine from side to side. 

The first faint breeze comes up the tide -- 

I pause with half uplifted oar, 

While night drifts down to claim the shore. 



LIMITATIONS 

Ef you's only got de powah fe* to blow a 

little whistle, 

Keep ermong de people wid de whistles. 
Ef you don't, you'll fin' out sho'tly dat 

you's th'owed yo' fines' feelin' 



316 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



In a place dat's all a bed o' thistles. 
'Tain't no use a-goin' now, ez sho's you bo'n, 
A-squeakin' of yo' whistle 'g'inst a gread 
big ho'n. 

Ef you ain't got but a teenchy bit o* 

victuals on de table, 
Whut's de use a-claimin' hit's a feas' ? 
Fe 1 de folks is mighty 'spicious, an' dey's 

ap' to come a-peerin', 
Lookin' fe' de scraps you leP at leas'. 
Wen de meal's a-hidin' fom de meal-bin's 

top, 
You needn't talk to hide it ; ef you sta'ts, 

des stop. 

Ef yo' min' kin only carry half a pint o' 

common idees, 

Don' go roun' a-sayin' hit's a bar'l ; 
'Ca'se de people gwine to test you, an' 

dey'll fin' out you's a-lyin', 
Den dey'll twis' yo' sayin's in a snarl. 
Wuss t'ing in de country dat I evah 

hyahed 
A crow dot sat a-squawkin', I's a 

mockin'-bird." 



A GOLDEN DAY 

I found you and I lost you, 
All on a gleaming day. 

The day was filled with sunshine, 
And the land was full of May. 

A golden bird was singing 

Its melody divine, 
I found you and I loved you, 

And all the world was mine. 

I found you and I lost you, 

All on a golden day, 
But when I dream of you, dear, 

It is always brimming May. 



THE UNLUCKY APPLE 

'Twas the apple that in Eden 
Caused our father's primal fall ; 

And the Trojan War, remember 
'Twas an apple caused it all. 



So for weeks I've hesitated, 
You can guess the reason why, 

For I want to tell my darling 
She's the apple of my eye. 



PUTTIN' THE BABY AWAY 

Eight of 'em hyeah all toF an' yet 
Dese eyes o .nine is \r ringin' wet ; 
My haht's a-achin' ha'd an' so', 
De way hit nevah ached befo' ; 
My soul's a-pleadin', " Lawd give back 
Dis little lonesome baby black, 
Dis one, dis las' po' he'pless one 
Whose little race was too soon run." 

Po' Little Jim, des fo' yeahs' ol' 
A-layin' down so still an' col'. 
Somehow hit don' seem ha'dly faih, 
To have my baby lyin' daih 
Wi'dout a smile upon his face, 
Wi'dout a look erbout de place ; 
He ust to be so full o' fun 
Hit don' seem right dat all's done, done. 

Des eight in all but I don' caih, 

Dey wa'nt a single one to spaih ; 

De worl' was big, so was my haht, 

An' dis hyeah baby owned hits paht; 

De house was po', dey clothes was rough, 

But daih was meat an' meal enough ; 

An' daih was room fu' little Jim ; 

Oh ! Lawd, what made you call fu' him ? 

It do seem monst'ous ha'd to-day, 
To lay dis baby boy away ; 
I'd learned to love his teasin' smile, 
He mought o' des been lef erwhile ; 
You wouldn't t'ought wid all de folks, 
Dat's roun' hyeah mixin' teabs an' jokes, 
De Lawd u'd had de time to see 
Dis chile an' tek him 'way fom me. 

But let it go, I reckon Jim, 

'11 des go right straight up to him 

Dat took him fom his mammy's nest 

An' lef dis achin' in my breas', 

An' lookin' in dat fathah's face 

An' 'memberin' dis lone sorrerin' place, 

He'll say, " Good Lawd, you ought to had 

Do sumpin* fu' to comfo't dad ! " 




Dese Eyes o' Mine is Wringin* Wet 




DES DON' PET Yo' WORRIES 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



319 



ADVICE 

Wen you full o' worry 

'Bout yo' wo'k an' sich, 
Wen you kind o' bothered 

Case you can't get rich, 
An' yo' neighboh p'ospah 

Past his jest desu'ts, 
An' de sneer of comerds 

Stuhes yo' heaht an' hu'ts, 
Des don' pet yo' worries, 

Lay 'em on de she'f, 
Tek a little trouble 

Brothah, wid yo'se'f. 

Ef a frien* comes mou'nin' 

'Bout his awful case, 
You know you don' grieve him 

Wid a gloomy face, 
But you wrassle wid him, 

Try to tek him in ; 
Dough hit cracks yo' features, 

Law, you smile lak sin, 
Ain't you good ez he is ? 

Don' you pine to def ; 
Tek a little trouble 

Brothah, wid yo'se'f. 

Ef de chillun pestahs, 

An' de baby's bad, 
Ef yo' wife gits narvous, 

An' you're gettin' mad, 
Des you grab yo' boot-strops, 

Hoi' yo' body down, 
Stop a-t'inkin' cuss-w'rds, 

Chase away de frown, 
Knock de haid o' worry, 

Twell dey ain' none lef ; 
Tek a little trouble, 

Brothah, wid yo'se'f. 



THE DISCOVERY 

These are the days of elfs and fays : 
Who says that with the dreams of myth, 
These imps and elves disport themselves ? 
Ah no, along the paths of song 
Do all the tiny folk belong. 

Round all our homes, 

Kobolds and gnomes do daily cling, 



Then nightly fling their lanterns out. 
And shout on shout, they join the rout, 
And sing, and sing, within the sweet en 
chanted ring. 

Where gleamed the guile of moonlight's 

smile, 

Once paused I, listening for a while, 
And heard the lay, unknown by day, 
The fairies' dancing roundelay. 

Queen Mab was there, her shimmering 

hair 

Each fairy prince's heart's despair. 
She smiled to see their sparkling glee, 
And once I ween, she smiled at me. 



Since when, you may by night or day, 
Dispute the sway of elf-folk gay ; 
But, hear me, stay! 

I've learned the way to find Queen Mab 
and elf and fay. 

Where'er by streams, the moonlight gleams, 
Or on meadow softly beams, 
There, footing round on dew-lit ground, 
The fairy folk may all be found. 



MORNING 

The mist has left the greening plain, 
The dew-drops shine like fairy rain, 
The coquette rose awakes again 

Her lovely self adorning. 
The Wind is hiding in the trees, 
A sighing, soothing, laughing tease, 
Until the rose says, " Kiss me, please,' 

'Tis morning, 'tis morning. 

With staff in hand and careless free, 
The wanderer fares right jauntily, 
For towns and houses are, thinks he, 

For scorning, for scorning. 
My soul is swift upon the wing, 
And in its deeps a song I bring ; 
Come, Love, and we together sing, 

"'Tis morning, 'tis morning" 



320 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



THE AWAKENING 

I did not know that life could be so sweet, 
I did not know the hours could speed so 

fleet, 

Till I knew you, and life was sweet again. 
The days grew brief with love and lack of 

pain 

I was a slave a few short days ago, 

The powers of Kings and Princes now I 

know ; 

I would not be again in bondage, save 
I had your smile, the liberty I crave. 



LOVE'S DRAFT 

The draft of love was cool and sweet 

You gave me in the cup, 
But, ah, love's fire is keen and fleet, 

And I am burning up. 

Unless the tears I shed for you 
Shall quench this burning flame. 

It will consume me through and through, 
And leave but ash a name. 



A MUSICAL 

Outside the rain upon the street, 
The sky all grim of hue, 

Inside, the music-painful sweet, 
And yet I heard but you. 

As is a thrilling violin, 
So is your voice to me 

And still above the other strains, 
It sang in ecstasy. 



TWELL DE NIGHT IS PAS' 

All de night long twell de moon goes down, 

Lovin* I set at huh feet, 
Den fu' de long jou'ney back fom de town, 

Ha'd, but de dreams mek it sweet. 

All de night long twell de break of de day, 

Dreamin' agin in my sleep, 
Mandy comes drivin' my sorrers away, 

Axin' me, " Wha' fu' you weep ? " 



All de day long twell de sun goes down, 

Smilin', I ben' to my hoe, 
Fu' dough de weddah git nasty an' frown, 

One place I know 1 km go. 

All my life long twell de night has pas' 

Let de wo'k come ez it will, 
So dat I fin' you, my honey, at las', 

Somewhaih des ovah de hill. 



AT NIGHT 

Whut time'd dat clock strike ? 

Nine ? No eight ; 

I didn't think hit was so late. 

Aer chew ! I must 'a' got a cough, 

I raally b'lieve I did doze off 

Hit's mighty soothin' to de tiah, 

A-dozin' dis way by de fiah ; 

00 oom hit feels so good to stretch 

1 sutny is one weary wretch ! 

Look hyeah, dat boy done gone to sleep! 
He des ain't wo'th his boa'd an' keep; 
I des don't b'lieve he'd bat his eyes 
If Gab'el called him fom de skies 1 
But sleepin's good dey ain't no doubt 
Dis pipe o' mine is done gone out. 
Don't bu'n a minute, bless my soul, 
Des please to han' me dat ah coal. 

You 'Lias git up now, my son, 
Seems lak my nap is des begun ; 
You sutny mus' ma'k down de day 
Wen I treats comp'ny dis away ! 
W'y, Brother Jones, dat drowse come on, 
An' laws ! I dremp dat you was gone ! 
You 'Lias, whaih yo' mannahs, suh, 
To hyeah me call an' nevah stuh ! 

To-morrer mo'nin' w'en I call 
Dat boy'll be sleepin' to beat all, 
Don't mek no diffunce how I roah, 
He'll des lay up an' sno' and sno'. 
Now boy, you done hyeahed whut I said, 
You bettah tek yo'se'f yo' baid, 
Case ef you gits me good an' wrong 
I'll mek dat sno' a diffunt song. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



321 



Dis wood fiah is invitin' dho', 

Hit seems to wa'm de ve'y flo' 

An' nuffin' ain't a whit ez sweet, 

Ez settin' toastin' of yo' feet. 

Hit mek you drowsy, too, but La ! 

Hyeah, 'Lias, don't you hyeah yo' ma? 

Ef I gits sta'ted f 'om dis cheah 

I' lay, you scamp, I'll mek you heah! 

To-morrer mo'nin' I kin bawl 
Twell all de neighbohs hyeah me call; 
An' you'll be snoozin' des ez deep 
Ez if de day was made fu' sleep ; 
Hit's funny when you got a cough 
Somehow yo' voice seems too fu' off 
Can't wake dat boy fu' all I say, 
I reckon he'll sleep daih twell day ! 



KIDNAPPED 

I held my heart so far from harm, 
I let it wander far and free 

In mead and mart, without alarm, 
Assured it must come back to me. 

And all went well till on a day, 
Learned Dr. Cupid wandered by 

A search along our sylvan way 
For some peculiar butterfly. 

A flash of wings, a hurried drive, 
A flutter and a short-lived flit ; 

This Scientist, as I am alive 

Had seen my heart and captured it. 

Right tightly now 'tis held among 
The specimens that he has trapped, 

And sings (oh, love is ever young), 
Tis passing sweet to be kidnapped. 



COMPENSATION 

Because I had loved so deeply, 
Because I had loved so long, 

God in his great compassion 
Gave me the gift of song. 

Because I have loved so vainly, 
And sung with such faltering 
breath, 

18 



The Master in infinite mercy 
Offers the boon of Death. 



WINTER'S APPROACH 

De sun hit shine an' de win' hit blow, 
Ol' Brer Rabbit be a-layin' low, 

He know dat de wintah time 

a-comin', 

De huntah man he walk an' wait, 
He walk right by Brer Rabbit's gate 

He know 



De dog he lick his sliverin' chop, 
An* he tongue 'gin' his mouf go flop, 
flop 

He 

He rub his nose fu' to clah his scent 
So's to tell w'ich way dat cotton-tail went, 

He 

De huntah's wife she set an' spin 

A good wahm coat fu' to wrop him in 

She 
She look at de skillet an' she smile, oh 

my! 
An' ol' Brer Rabbit got to sholy fly. 

Dey know. 



ANCHORED 

If thro' the sea of night which here sur 
rounds me, 
I could swim out beyond the farthest 

star, 
Break every barrier of circumstance that 

bounds me, 
And greet the Sun of sweeter life afar, 

Tho' near you there is passion, grief, and 

sorrow, 
And out there rest and joy and peace 

and all, 

I should renounce that beckoning for to 
morrow, 

I could not choose to go beyond your 
call. 



322 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



THE VETERAN 

Underneath the autumn sky, 
Haltingly, the lines go by 
Ah, would steps were blithe and gay, 
As when first they marched away, 
Smile on lip and curl on brow, 
Only white-faced gray-beards now, 
Standing on life > outer verge, 
E'en the marcht 3 sound a dirge. 



Blow, you bugles, play, you fife, 
Rattle, drums, for dearest life. 
Let the flags wave freely so, 
As the marching legions go. 
Shout, hurrah and laugh and jest, 
This is memory at its best. 
(Did you notice at your quip, 
That old comrade's quivering lip ?) 



Ah, I see them as they come, 
Stumbling with the rumbling drum ; 
But a sight more sad to me 
E'en than these ranks could be 
Was that one with cane upraised 
Who stood by and gazed and gazed, 
Trembling, solemn, lips compressed, 
Longing to be with the rest. 



Did he dream of old alarms, 
As he stood, " presented arms " ? 
Did he think of field and camp 
And the unremitting tramp 
Mile on mile the lonely guard 
When he kept his midnight ward ? 
Did he dream of wounds and scars 
In that bitter war of wars ? 



What of that ? He stood and stands 
In my memory trembling hands, 
Whitened beard and cane and all 
As if waiting for the call 
Once again : " To arms, my sons," 
And his ears hear far-off guns, 
Roll of cannon and the tread 
Of the legions of the Dead ! 



BLUE 

Standm' at de winder, 

Feelin* kind o' glum, 
Listenin' to de rain-drops 

Play de kettle drum, 
Lookin' crost de medders 

Swimmin' lak a sea; 
Lawd 'a' mussy on us, 

What's de good o' me ? 

Can't go out a-hoein', 

Wouldn't ef I could ; 
Groun' too wet fu' huntin', 

Fishin' ain ? t no good. 
Too much noise fo' sleepin', 

No one hyeah to chat; 
Des mus' stan' an' listen 

To dat pit-a-pat. 

Hills is gittin' misty, 

Valley's gittin' dahk ; 
Watch-dog's 'mence a-howlin', 

Rathah have 'em ba'k 
Dan a moanm' solemn 

Somewhaih out o' sight; 
Rain-cixDW des a-chucklin* 

Dis is his delight. 

Mandy, bring my banjo, 

Bring de chillen in, 
Come in f om de kitchen, 

I feel sick ez sin. 
Call in Uncle Isaac, 

Call Aunt Hannah, too, 
Tain't no use in talkin', 

Chile, I's sholy blue. 



DREAMIN' TOWN 

Come away to dreamin' town, 

Mandy Lou, Mandy Lou, 
Whaih de skies don' nevah frown, 

Mandy Lou ; 

Whaih de streets is paved with goP, 
Whaih de days is nevah col', 
An' no sheep strays f om de fol', 

Mandy Lou. 

Ain't you tiahed of every day, 
Mandy Lou, Mandy Lou, 




CHILE, Fs SHOLY BLUE 




IN DAT DREAMLAND OF DELIGHT 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



325 



Tek my han' an' come away, 

Mandy Lou, 

To the place whaih dreams is Kimg, 
Whaih my heart hoi's everything, 
An' my soul can allus sing, 

Mandy Lou. 

Come away to dream wid me, 

Mandy Lou, Mandy Lou, 
Whaih our hands an' hea'ts are free, 

Mandy Lou; 

Whaih de sands is shinin' white, 
In dat dreamland of delight, 
Whaih de rivahs glistens bright, 
Mandy Lou. 

Come away to dreamland town, 

Mandy Lou, Mandy Lou, 
Whaih de fruit is bendin' down, 

Des fu' you. 

Smooth your brow of lovin' brown, 
An' my love will be its crown ; 
Come away to dreamin' town, 

Mandy Lou. 



YESTERDAY AND TO-MORROW 

Yesterday I held your hand, 

Reverently I pressed it, 
And its gentle yieldingness 

From my soul I blessed it. 

But to-day I sit alone, 

Sad and sore repining; 
Must our gold forever know 

Flames for the refining ? 

Yesterday I walked with you, 
Could a day be sweeter ? 

Life was all a lyric song 
Set to tricksy meter. 

Ah, to-day is like a dirge, 
Place my arms around you, 

Let me feel the same dear joy 
As when first I found you. 

Let me once retrace my steps, 
From these roads unpleasant, 

Let my heart and mind and soul 
All ignore the present. 



Yesterday the iron seared 
And to-day means sorrow. 

Pause, my soul, arise, arise, 

Look where gleams the morrow. 



THE CHANGE 

Love used to carry a bow, you know, 

But now he carries a taper ; 
It is either a length of wax aglow, 

Or a twist of lighted paper. 

I pondered a little about the scamp, 

And then I decided to follow 
His wandering journey to field and camp, 

Up hill, down dale or hollow. 

I dogged the rollicking, gay, young blade 

In every species of weather ; 
Till, leading me straight to the home of 3 

maid 
He left us there together. 

And then I saw it, oh, sweet surprise, 

The taper it set a-burning 
The love-light brimming my lady's eyes, 

And my heart with the fire of yearning. 



THE CHASE 

The wind told the little leaves to hurry, 
And chased them down the way, 

While the mother tree laughed loud in 

glee, 
For she thought her babes at play. 

The cruel wind and the rain laughed 

loudly, 

We'll bury them deep, they said, 
And the old tree grieves, and the little 

leaves 
Lie low, all chilled and dead. 

SUPPOSE 

If 'twere fair to suppose 

That your heart were not taken, 

That the dew from the rose 
Petals still were not shaken, 

I should pluck you, 



326 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Howe'er you should thorn me and 



And. wear ^ 

bower. 



scorn me, 

you for life as the green of the 

ITAV 



If 'twere fair to suppose 

That that road was for vagrants, 
That the wind and the rose, 

Counted all in their fragrance ; 
Oh, my dear one, 

My love, I should take you and make 

you, 

The green of my life from the scintillant 
hour. 



THE DEATH OF THE FIRST-BORN 

Cover him over with daisies white, 
And eke with the poppies red, 

Sit with me here by his couch to-night, 
For the First-Born, Love, is dead. 

Poor little fellow, he seemed so fair 
As he lay in my jealous arms ; 

Silent and cold he is lying there 
Stripped of his darling charms. 

Lusty and strong he had grown forsooth, 

Sweet with an infinite grace, 
Proud in the force of his conquering 
youth, 

Laughter alight in his face. 

Oh, but the blast, it was cruel and keen, 
And ah, but the chill it was rare ; 

The look of the winter-kissed flow'r you've 

seen 
When meadows and fields were bare. 

Can you not wake from this white, cold 
sleep 

And speak to me once again ? 
True that your slumber is deep, so deep, 

But deeper by far is my pain. 

Cover him over with daisies white, 
And eke with the poppies red, 

Sit with me here by his couch to-night, 
For the First-Born, Love, is dead. 



BEIN' BACK HOME 

Wearying of his losing battle fo iealth, 
assured that his days were numbe ;d, and 
too weak to continue his literary labors, 
poor Paul Dunbar went home to Dayton 
to die. 

Show me another, who, under such 
heart-breaking conditions, could have 
written such a poem as " Bein' Back 
Home." 

The old settee to which he refers in the 
fourth stanza, actually exists, and was the 
poet's favorite seat. His mother counts 
it among the most precious relics of her 
son. 

Home agin, an' home to stay 
Yes, it's nice to be away. 
Plenty things to do an' see, 
But the old place seems to me 
Jest about the proper thing. 
Mebbe 'ts 'cause the mem'ries cling 
Closer 'round yore place o' birth 
'N ary other spot on earth. 

W'y it's nice jest settin' here, 
Lookin' out an' seein' clear, 
'Thout no smoke, ner dust, ner haze 
In these sweet October days. 
What's as good as that there lane, 
Kind o' browned from last night's rain ? 
'Pears like home has got the start 
When the goal's a feller's heart. 

What's as good as that there jay 
Screechin' up'ards towards the gray 
Skies ? An' tell me, what's as fine 
As that full-leafed pumpkin vine ? 
Tow'rin' buildin's yes, they're good ; 
But in sight o' field and wood, 
Then a feller understands 
'Bout the house not made with han's. 

Let the others rant an' roam 
When they git away from home ; 
Jest gi' me my old settee 
An' my pipe beneath a tree ; 
Sight o' medders green an' still, 
Now and then a gentle hill, 
Apple orchards, full o' fruit, 
Nigh a cider press to boot 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



327 



That's the thing jest done up brown 
D'want to be too nigh to town ; 
Want to have the smells an' sights, 
An' the dreams o' long still nights, 
With the friends you used to know 
In the keerless long ago 
Same old cronies, same old folks, 
Same old cider, same old jokes. 

Say, it's nice a-gittin' back, 
When yore pulse is growin' slack, 
An' yore breath begins to wheeze 
Like a fair-set valley breeze ; 
Kind o' nice to set aroun' 
On the old familiar groun', 
Knowin' that when Death does come, 
That he'll find you right at home. 



DESPAIR 

Let me close the eyes of my soul 

That I may not see 
What stands between thee and me. 

Let me shut the ears of my heart 

That I may not hear 
A voice that drowns yours, my dear. 

Let me cut the cords of my life, 

Of my desolate being, 
Since cursed is my hearing and seeing. 



CIRCUMSTANCES ALTER CASES 

Tim Murphy's gon* walkin* wid Maggie 
O'Neill, 

O chone ! 

If I was her muther, I'd frown on sich 
foolin', 

O chone ! 

I'm sure it's unmutherlike, darin' an' wrong 
To let a gyrul hear tell the sass an* the 

song 

Of every young felly that happens along, 
O chone ! 

An* Murphy, the things that's be'n sed of 
his doin', 

O chone ! 



'Tis a cud that no decent folks want to be 

chewin', 

O chone ! 
If he came to my door wid his cane on a 

twirl, 
Fur to thry to make love to you, Biddy, 

my girl, 
Ah, wouldn't I send him away wid a 

whirl, 

O chone ! 



They say the gossoon is indecent and 
dirty, 

O chone ! 
In spite of his dressin' so. 

O chone ! 
Let him dress up ez foine ez a king or a 

queen, 
Let him put on more wrinkles than ever 

was seen, 

You'll be sure he's no match for my little 
colleen, 

O chone ! 

Faith the two is comin' back an* their 
walk is all over, 

O chone ! 

'Twas a pretty short walk fur to take wid 
a lover, . . 

O chone ! 
Why, I believe that Tim Murphy's a 

kumin' this way, 
Ah, Biddy, jest look at him steppin* so 

gay. 

I'd niver belave what the gossipers say, 
O chone ! 



He's turned in the gate an' he's coming 
a-caperin', 

O chone ! 

Go, Biddy, go quick an' put on a clane 
apern, 

O chone ! 
Be quick as ye kin fur he's right at the 

dure; 
Come in, master Tim, fur ye're welcome 

I'm shure. 

We were talkin' o' ye jest a minute be 
fore. 

O chone I 



328 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



TILL THE WIND GETS RIGHT 

Oh, the breeze is blowin' balmy 

And the sun is in a haze ; 
There's a cloud jest givin' coolness, 

To the laziest of days. 
There are crowds upon the lakeside, 

But the fish refuse to bite, 
So I'll wait and go a-fishin' 

When the wind gets right. 



Now my boat tugs at her anchor, 

Eager now to kiss the spray, 
While the little waves are callin' 

Drowsy sailor come away, 
There's a harbor for the happy, 

And its sheen is just in sight, 
But I won't set sail to get there, 

Till the wind gets right 



That's my trouble, too, I reckon, 

I've been waitin' all too long, 
Tho' the days were always 

Still the wind is always wrong. 
An' when Gabriel blows his trumpet, 

In the day o' in the night, 
I will still be found waitin', 

Till the wind gets right. 



A SUMMER NIGHT 

Summah is de lovin' time 

Do' keer what you say. 
Night is allus peart an' prinu, 

Betta" Ian de day. 
Do de day is sweet an' good, 

Birds a-singin' fine, 
Pines a-smellin* in de wood, 

But de night is mine. 



Rivah whisperin' " howdy do," 

Ez it pass you by 
Moon a-lookin' down at you, 

Winkin' on de sly. 
Frogs a-croakin' fom de pon', 

Singin' bass dey fill, 
An* you listen way beyon* 

Ol r man whippo'will. 



Hush up, honey, tek my han*, 

Mek yo' footsteps light ; 
Somep'n' kin' o' hoi's de Ian' 

On a summah night. 
Somep'n' dat you nevah sees 

An' you nevah hyeahs, 
But you feels it in de breeze, 

Somep'n' nigh to teahs. 



Somep'n' nigh to teahs ? dat's 

But hit's nigh to smiles. 
An' you feels it ez you go 

Down de shinin' miles. 
Tek my han', my little dove; 

Hush an' come erway 
Summah is de time m' love, 

Night-time beats de day ! 



AT SUNSET TIME 

A down the west a golden glow 

Sinks burning in the sea, 
And all the dreams of long ago 

Come flooding back to me. 
The past has writ a story strange 

Upon my aching heart, 
But time has wrought a subtle change 

My wounds have ceased to smart. 



No more the quick delight of youth, 

No more the sudden pain, 
I look no more for trust or truth 

Where greed may compass gain. 
What, was it I who bared my heart 

Through unrelenting years, 
And knew the sting of misery's dart, 

The tang of sorrow's tears ? 



Tis better now, I do not weep, 

I do not laugh nor care ; 
My soul and spirit half asleep 

Drift aimless everywhere. 
We float upon a sluggish stream, 

We ride no rapids mad, 
While life is all a tempered dream 

And every joy half sad. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



329 



NIGHT 

Silence, and whirling worlds afar 
Through all encircling skies. 

What floods come o'er the spirit's bar, 
What wondrous thoughts arise. 

The earth, a mantle falls away, 
And, winged, we leave the sod ; 

Where shines in its eternal sway 
The majesty of God. 



AT LOAFING-HOLT 

Since I left the city's heat 
For this sylvan, cool retreat, 
High upon the hillside here 
Where the air is clean and clear, 
I have lost the urban ways. 
Mine are calm and tranquil days, 
Sloping lawns of green are mine, 
Clustered treasures of the vine ; 
Long forgotten plants I know, 
Where the best wild berries grow, 
Where the greens and grasses sprout, 
When the elders blossom out. 
Now I am grown weather-wise 
With the lore of winds and skies. 
Mine the song whose soft refrain 
Is the sigh of summer rain. 
Seek you where the woods are cool, 
Would you know the shady pool 
Where, throughout the lazy day, 
Speckled beauties drowse or play ? 
Would you find in rest or peace 
Sorrow's permanent release ? 
Leave the city, grim and gray, 
Come with me, ah, come away. 
Do you fear the winter chill, 
Deeps of snow upon the hill ? 
'Tis a mantle, kind and warm, 
Shielding tender shoots from harm. 
Do you dread the ice-clad streams, 
They are mirrors for your dreams. 
Here's a rouse, when summer's past 
To the raging winter's blast. 
Let him roar and let him rout, 
We are armored for the bout. 
How the logs are glowing, see ! 
Who sings louder, they or he ? 
Could the city be more gay ? 
Burn your bridges ! Come away ! 



WHEN A FELLER'S ITCHIN' TO 
BE SPANKED 

W'en us fellers stomp around, makin' lots 

o' noise, 
Gramma says, "There's certain times 

comes to little boys 
W'en they need a shingle or the soft side 

of a plank j " 
She says, " we're'a-itchin 1 for a right good 

spank." 

An* she says, " Now thes you wait, 
It's a-comin' soon or late, 
W'en a feller's itchin' fer a spank." 

W'en a feller's out o' school, you know 

how he feels, 
Gramma says we wriggle 'roun' like a lot 

o' eels. 
W'y it's like a man that's thes home from 

out o' jail. 
What's the use o' scoldin' if we pull Tray's 

tail? 

Gramma says, tho', thes you wait, 
It's a-comin' soon or late, 
You'se the boys that's itchin' to be 

spanked." 



Cats is funny creatures an* I like to make 

'em yowl, 
Gramma alwus looks at me with a awful 

scowl 
An' she says, " Young gentlemen, mamma 

should be thanked 
Ef you'd get your knickerbockers right 

well spanked." 

An' she says, " Now thes you wait, 
It's a-comin' soon or late," 
W'en a feller's itchin' to be spanked. 

Ef you fin' the days is gettin' awful hot in 

school 
An' you know a swimmin' place where it's 

nice and cool, 
Er you know a cat-fish hole brimmin' full 

o' fish, 
Whose a-goin' to set around school and 

wish? 

'Tain't no use to hide your bait, 
It's a-comin' soon or late, 
W'en a feller's itchin' to be spanked. 



330 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Ol' folks know most ever'thing 'bout the 

world, I guess, 
Gramma does, we wish she knowed thes a 

little less, 

But I alwus kind o' think it 'ud be as well 
Ef they wouldn't alwus have to up an' tell; 
We kids wish 'at they'd thes wait, 
It's a-comin' soon or late, 
Wen a feller's itchin' to.be spanked. 



THE RIVER OF RUIN 

Along by the river of ruin 
They dally the thoughtless ones, 
They dance and they dream 
By the side of the stream, 
As long as the river runs. 

It seems all so pleasant and cheery 

No thought of the morrow is theirs, 

And their faces are bright 

With the sun of delight, 

And they dream of no night-brooding cares. 

The women wear garlanded tresses, 

The men have rings on their hands, 

And they sing in their glee, 

For they think they are free 

They that know not the treacherous sands. 

Ah, but this be a venturesome journey, 

Forever those sands are ashrift, 

And a step to one side 

Means a grasp of the tide, 

And the current is fearful and swift. 

For once in the river of ruin, 

What boots it, to do or to dare, 

For down we must go 

In the turbulent flow, 

To the desolate sea of Despair. 



TO HER 

Your presence like a benison to me 
Wakes my sick soul to dreamful ecstasy, 
I fancy that some old Arabian night 
Saw you my houri and my heart's de 
light. 



And wandering forth beneath the passion 
ate moon, 

Your love-strung zither and my soul in 
tune, 

We knew the joy, the haunting of the 
pain 

That like a flame thrills through me now 
again. 

To-night we sit where sweet the spice 

winds blow, 
A wind the northland lacks and ne'er 

shall know, 

With clasped hands and spirits all aglow 
As in Arabia in the long ago. 



A LOVE LETTER 

Oh, I des received a letter f om de sweet 
est little gal ; 

Oh, my ; oh, my. 

She's my lovely little sweetheart an' her 
name is Sal : 

Oh, my ; oh, my. 

She writes me dat she loves me, an' she 

loves me true, 
She wonders ef I'll tell huh dat I loves 

huh too ; 
An' my heaht's so full o' music dat I do' 

know what to do ; 

Oh, my; oh, my. 

I got a man to read at an* he read it fine ; 

Oh, my; oih, my. 

Dey ain' no use denying dat her love is 
mine ; 

Oh, my; oil, my. 

But hyeah's de flag dat's puttin' me in 

such a awful flight, 
I t'ink of huh Q,t mornin' an' I dream of 

huh at night ', 
But how's I gwine to cou't huh w'en I do' 

know how to write ? 
Oh, my; oh, my. 

My heaht is bubblin' ovah wid de t'ings I 
want to say ; 

Oh, my ; oh, my. 




A Letter f'om de Sweetes' Little Gal 




GIT TO TINKIN' OF DE PAS' 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



333 



An* dey's lots of folks to copy what I tell 
'em fu' de pay ; 

Oh, my ; oh, my. 

Bvu dey's t'ings dat I's a-t'inki- ' dat is 

only fu' huh ears, 
An' I couldn't lu'n to write 'em ef I took 

a dozen years ; 

So to go down daih an' tell huh is de only 
way, it 'pears ; 

Oh, my ; oh, my. 

THE OLD CABIN 

In de dead of night I sometimes, 

Git to t'inkin' of de pas' 
An' de days w'en slavery belt me 

In my mis'ry ha'd an' fas'. 
Dough de time was mighty try in', 

In dese houahs somehow hit seem 
Dat a brightah light come slippin' 

Thoo de kivahs of my dream. 

An' my min' fu'gits de whuppins 

Draps de feah o' block an' lash 
An' flies straight to somep'n' joyful 

In a secon's lightnin' flash. 
Den hit seems I see a vision 

Of a dearah long ago 
Of de childern tumblin' roun' me 

By my rough ol' cabin do'. 

Talk about yo' go'geous mansions 

An' yo' big house great an' gran', 
Des bring up de fines' palace 

Dat you know in all de Ian'. 
But dey's somep'n' dearah to me, 

Somep'n' faihah to my eyes 
In dat cabin, less yon bring me 

To yo' mansion in de skies. 

I kin see de light a-shinin' 

Thoo de chinks atween de logs, 
I kin hyeah de way-off bayin' 

Of my mastah's huntin' dogs, 
An' de neighin' of de bosses 

Stampin' on de ol' bahn flo', 
But above dese soun's de laughin' 

At my deah ol' cabin do'. 

We would gethah daih at evenin', 
All my frien's 'ud come erroun' 



An' hit wan't no time, twell, bless you, 
You could hyeah de banjo's soun'. 

You could see de dahkies dancin' 
Pigeon wing an' heel an' toe, 

Joyous times I tell you people 
Roun' dat same ol' cabin do'. 

But at times my t'oughts gits saddah, 

Ez I riccolec' de folks, 
An' dey frolickin' an' talkin' 

Wid dey laughin' an' dey jokes. 
An' hit hu'ts me w'en I membahs 

Dat I'll nevah see no mo' 
Dem ah faces gethered smilin' 

Roun' dat po' ol' cabin do'. 



AFTER MANY DAYS 

I've always been a faithful man 

An' tried to live for duty, 
But the stringent mode of life 

Has somewhat lost its beauty. 

The story of the generous bread 

He sent upon the waters, 
Which after many days returns 

To trusting sons and daughters, 

Had oft impressed me, so I want 

My soul influenced by it, 
And bought a loaf of bread and sought 

A stream where I could try it. 

I cast my bread upon the waves 
And fancied then to await it ; 

It had not floated far away 

When a fish came up and ate it. 

And if I want both fish and bread, 
And surely both I'm wanting, 

About the only way I see 
Is for me to go fishing. 



LIZA MAY 

Little brown face full of smiles, 
And a baby's guileless wiles, 
Liza May, Liza May. 



334 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Eyes a-peeping thro' the fence 
With an interest intense, 
Liza May. 

Ah, the gate is just ajar, 
And the meadow is not far, 

Liza May, Liza May. 

And the road feels very sweet, 
To your little toddling feet, 
Liza May. 

Ah, you roguish runaway, 
What will toiling mother say, 
Liza May, Liza May ? 

What care you who smile to greet 
Every one you chance to meet, 
Liza May ? 

Soft the mill-race sings its song, 
Just a little way along, 

Liza May, Liza May. 

But the song is full of guile, 
Turn, ah turn, your steps the while, 
Liza May. 

You have caught the gleam and glow 
Where the darkling waters flow, 
Liza May, Liza May. 

Flash of ripple, bend of bough, 
Where are all the angels now ? 
Liza May. 

Now a mother's eyes intense 
Gazing o'er a shabby fence, 

Liza May, Liza May. 

Then a mother's anguished face 
Peering all around the place, 
Liza May. 

Hear the agonizing call 
For a mother's all in all, 

Liza May, L za May. 

Hear a mother's maddened prayer 
To the calm unanswering air, 
Liza May. 



What's become of Liza May ? 
What has darkened all the day ? 
Liza May, Liza May. 

Ask the waters dark and fleet, 
If they know the smiling, sweet 
Liza May. 

Call her, call her as you will, 
On the meadow, on the hill, 

Liza May, Liza May. 

Through the brush or beaten track 
Echo only gives you back, 
Liza May. 

Ah, but you were loving sweet, 
On your little toddling feet, 

Liza May, Liza May. 

But through all the coming years, 
Must a mother breathe with tears, 
Liza May. 



THE MASTERS 

Oh, who is the Lord of the land of life, 

When hotly goes the fray ? 
When, fierce we smile in the midst of 
strife 

Then whom shall we obey ? 

Oh, Love is the Lord of the land of life 
Who holds a monarch's sway ; 

He wends with wish of maid and wife, 
And him you must obey. 

Then who is the Lord of the land of life, 

At setting of the sun ? 
Whose word shall sway when Peace is 
rife 

And all the fray is done ? 

Then Death is the Lord of the land of 
life, 

When your hot race is run. 
Meet then his scythe and pruning-knife 

When the fray is lost or won. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



335 



TROUBLE IN DE KITCHEN 

Dey was oncet a awful quoil 'twixt de 

skillet an' de pot ; 
De pot was des a-bilin' an' de skillet sho' 

was hot. 
Dey slurred each othah's colah an' dey 

called each othah names, 
Wile de coal-oil can des gu'gled, po'in' oil 

erpon de flames. 

De pot, hit called de skillet des a flat, dis- 

figgered t'ing, 
An' d skillet 'plied dat all de pot could 

do was set an' sing, 
An' he 'lowed dat dey was 'lusions dat he 

wouldn't stoop to mek 
'Case he reckernize his juty, an' he had 

too much at steak. 

Well, at dis de pot biled ovah, case his 

tempah gittin' highah, 
An' de skillet got to sputterin', den de fat 

was in de fiah. 
Mistah fiah lay daih smokin' an' a-t'inkin' 

to hisse'f, 
Wile de peppah-box us nudgin' of de 

gingah on de she'f. 

Den dey all des lef hit to 'im, 'bout de 

trouble an' de talk ; 
An' hovvevah he decided, w'y dey bofe 'u'd 

walk de chalk ; 
But de fiah uz so 'sgusted how dey quoil 

an' dey shout 
Dat he cooled 'em off, I reckon, w'en he 

puffed an' des went out. 



THE QUILTING 

Dolly sits a-quilting by her mother, stitch 

by stitch, 
Gracious, how my pulses throb, how my 

fingers itch, 
While I note her dainty waist and her 

slender hand, 
As she matches this and that, she stitches 

strand by strand. 
And I long to tell her Life's a quilt and 

I'm a patch ; 
Love will do the stitching if she'll only be 

my match. 



PARTED 

She wrapped her soul in a lace of lies, 
With a prime deceit to pin it ; 

And I* thought I was gaining a fearsome 

prize, 
So I staked my soul to win it. 

We wed and parted on her complaint, 
And both were a bit of barter, 

Tho' I'll confess that I'm no saint, 
I'll swear that she's no martyr. 



FOREVER 

I had not known before 

Forever was so long a word. 
The slow stroke of the clock of time 

I had not heard. 

'Tis hard to learn so late ; 

It seems no sad heart really learns, 
But hopes and trusts and doubts and fears, 

And bleeds and burns. 

The night is not all dark, 

Nor is the day all it seems, 
But each may bring me this relief 

My dreams and dreams. 

I had not known before 

That Never was so sad a word, 

So wrap me in forgetfulness 
I have not heard. 



CHRISTMAS 

Step wid de banjo an' glide wid de fiddle, 
Dis ain' no time fu' to pottah an' pid 
dle; 
Fu' Christmas is comin', it's right on de 

way, 
An' dey's houahs to dance 'fo' de break 

o' de day. 

What if de win' is taihin' an' whistlin' ? 
Look at dat fiah how hit's spittin' an' 

bristlin' ! 

Heat in de ashes an' heat in de cindahs, 
OP mistah Fros' kin des look thoo de 
windahs. 



336 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 



Heat up de toddy an' pas' de wa'm glasses, 
Don* stop to shivah at blowin's an' 

blas'es, 

Keep on de kittle an' keep it a-hummin', 
Eat all an' drink all, dey's lots mo' 

a-comin'. 

Look hyeah, Maria, don't open dat oven, 
Want all dese people a-pushin' an' 
shovin' ? 

Res' f'om de dance? Yes, you done 

cotch dat odah, 
Mammy done cotch it, an' law ! hit nigh 

flo'h huh ; 
'Possum is monst'ous fu' mekin' folks fin* 

it! 
Come, draw yo* cheers up, I's sho' I do' 

min' it. 
Eat up dem critters, you men folks an* 

wimmens, 

'Possums ain' skace w'en dey's lots o' 
pu'simmons. 



ROSES AND PEARLS 

Your spoken words are roses fine and 

sweet, 
The songs you sing are perfect pearls of 

sound. 

How lavish nature is about your feet, 
To scatter flowers and jewels both 
around. 

Blushing the stream of petal beauty flows, 
Softly the white strings trickle down 

and shine. 

Oh ! speak to me, my love, I crave a rose. 
Sing me a song, for I would pearls were 
mine. 



RAIN-SONGS 

The rain. streams down like harp-strings 

from the sky ; 
The wind, that world-old harpist, sitteth 

by; 

And ever as he sings his low refrain, 
He plays upon the harp-strings of the 
rain. 



A LOST DREAM 

Ah, I have changed, I do not know 
Why lonely hours affect me so. 
In days of yore, this were not wont, 
No loneliness my soul could daunt. 

For me too serious for my age, 

The weighty tome of hoary sage, 

Until with puzzled heart astir, 

One God-giv'n night, I dreamed of her. 

I loved no woman, hardly knew 
More of the sex that strong men woo 
Than cloistered monk within his cell ; 
But now the dream is lost, and hell 

Holds me her captive tight and fast 
Who prays and struggles for the past. 
No living maid has charmed my eyes, 
But now, my soul is wonder-wise. 

For I have dreamed of her and seen 
Her red-brown tresses, ruddy sheen, 
Have known her sweetness, lip to lip, 
The joy of her companionship. 

When days were bleak and winds were 

rude, 

She shared my smiling solitude, 
And all the bare hills walked with me 
To hearken winter's melody. 

And when the spring came o'er the land 
We fared together hand in hand 
Beneath the linden's leafy screen 
That waved above us faintly green. 

In summer, by the riverside, 
Our souls were kindred with the tide 
That floated onward to the sea 
As we swept towards Eternity. 

THTbird's call and the water's drone 
Were all for us and us alone. 
The water fall that sang all night 
Was her companion, my delight, 

And e'en the squirrel, as he sped 
Along the branches overhead, 
Half kindly and half envious, 
Would chatter at the joy of us. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



337 



Twas but a dream, her face, her hair, 
The spring-time sweet, the winter bare, 
The summer when the woods we ranged,- 
'Twas but a dream, but all is changed. 

Yes, all is changed and all has fled, 
The dream is broken, shattered, dead. 
And yet, sometimes, I pray to know 
How just a dream could hold me so. 



A SONG 

On a summer's day as I sat by a stream, 
A dainty maid came by, 

And she blessed my sight like a rosy 

dream, 

And left me there to sigh, to sigh, 
And left me there to sigh, to sigh. 

On another day as I sat by the stream, 
This maiden paused a while, 

Then I made me bold as I told my dream, 
She heard it with a smile, a smile, 
She heard it with a smile, a smile. 

Oh, the months have fled and the autumn's 

red, 
The maid no more goes by ; 



For my dream came true and the maid I 

wed, 

And now no more I sigh, I sigh, 
And now no more I sigh. 



A SONG 

Thou art the soul of a summer's day, 
Thou art the breath of the rose. 

But the summer is fled 

And the rose is dead 

Where are they gone, who knows, who 
knows ? 



Thou art the blood of my heart o* hearts, 
Thou art my soul's repose, 

But my heart grows numb 

Aud my soul is dumb 
Where art thou, love, who knows, who 
knows ? 

Thou art the hope of my after years 
Sun for my winter snows 

But the years go by 

'Neath a clouded sky. 
Where shall we meet, who knows, who 
knows ? 



PART III 

The Best Stories of Paul Laurence 

Dunbar 

A FAMILY FEUD 

I WISH I could tell you the story as I heard it from the 
lips of the old black woman as she sat bobbing her tur- 
baned head to and fro with the motion of her creaky little 
rocking-chair, and droning the tale forth in the mellow 
voice of her race. So much of the charm of the story 
was in that voice, which even the cares of age had not 
hardened. 

It was a sunny afternoon in late November, one of those 
days that come like a backward glance from a reluctantly 
departing summer. I had taken advantage of the warmth 
and brightness to go up and sit with old Aunt Doshy on 
the little porch that fronted her cottage. The old woman 
nad been a trusted house-servant in one of the wealthiest 
of the old Kentucky families, and a visit to her never 
failed to elicit some reminiscence of the interesting past. 
Aunt Doshy was inordinately proud of her family, as she 
designated the Venables, and was never weary of detail 
ing accounts of their grandeur and generosity. What if 
some of the harshness of reality was softened by the dis 
tance through which she looked back upon them ; what 

339 



340 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

if the glamour of memory did put a halo round the heads 
of some people who were never meant to be canonized ? 
It was all plain fact to Aunt Doshy, and it was good to 
hear her talk. That day she began : 

" I reckon I hain't never toP you 'bout ole Mas' an* 
young Mas' fallin' out, has I ? Hit's all over now, an' 
things is done change so dat I reckon eben ef ole Mas' 
was libin', he wouldn't keer ef I toP, an' I knows young 1 
Mas' Tho'nton wouldn't. Dey ain't nuffin' to hide 'bout 
it nohow, 'ca'se all quality families has de same kin' o' 
'spectable fusses. 

" Hit all happened 'long o' dem Jamiesons whut libed 
jinin' places to our people, an' whut ole Mas' ain't spoke 
to fu' nigh onto thutty years. Long while ago, when 
Mas' Tom Jamieson an' Mas' Jack Venable was bofe 
young mans, dey had a qua'l 'bout de young lady dey 
bofe was a-cou'tin', an' by an' by dey had a du'l an* Mas' 
Jamieson shot Mas' Jack in de shouldah, but Mas' Jack 
ma'ied de lady, so dey was eben. Mas' Jamieson ma'ied 
too, an' after so many years dey was bofe wid'ers, but 
dey ain't fu'give one another yit. When Mas' Tho'nton 
was big enough to run erroun', ole Mas' used to try to 
press on him dat a Venable mus'n' never put his foot on 
de Jamieson Ian' ; an' many a tongue-lashin' an' some 
times wuss de han's on our place got fu' mixin' wif de 
Jamieson servants. But, la ! young Mas' Tho'nton was 
wuss'n de niggers. Evah time he got a chance he was 
out an' gone, over lots an' fiePs an' into de Jamieson ya'd 
a-playin' wif little Miss Nellie, whut was Mas' Tom's little 
gal. I never did see two chillun so 'tached to one an 
other. Dey used to wander erroun', han' in han', lak 
brother an' sister, an' dey'd cry lak dey little hea'ts 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 341 

Vd brek ef either one of dey pappys seed J em an' 
pa'ted 'em. 

" I 'member once when de young Mastah was erbout 
eight year ole, he was a-settin' at de table one mo'nin' 
eatin' wif his pappy, when all of er sudden he pause an' 
say, jes' ez solerm-lak, * When I gits big, I gwine to ma'y 
Nellie.' His pappy jump lak he was shot, an' tu'n right 
pale, den he say kin' o' slow an' gaspy-lak, * Don't evah 
let me hyeah you say sich a thing ergin, Tho'nton 
Venable. Why, boy, I'd raver let evah drap o' blood 
outen you, dan to see a Venable cross his blood wif a 
Jamieson.' 

" I was jes' a-bringin' in de cakes whut Mastah was 
pow'ful fon' of, an' I could see bofe dey faces. But, la ! 
honey, dat chile didn't look a bit skeered. He jes' sot 
dah lookin' in his pappy's face, he was de spittin' image 
of him, all 'cept his eyes, dey was his mother's, den he 
say, * Why, Nellie's nice/ an' went on eatin' a aig. His 
pappy laid his napkin down an' got up an' went erway 
'om de table. Mas' Tho'nton say, ' Why, father didn't, 
eat his cakes.' ' I reckon yo' pa ain't well/ says I, fu' I 
knowed de chile was innercent 

" Well, after dat day, ole Mas' tuk extry pains to keep 
de chillun apa't but 'twa'n't no use. 'Tain't never no 
use in a case lak dat. Dey jes' would be together, an' ez 
de boy got older, it seemed to grieve his pappy mighty. 
I reckon he didn't lak to jes' fu'bid him seein' Miss Nellie 
fu' he know how haidstrong Mas' Tho'nton was, anyhow. 
So things kep' on dis way, an' de boy got handsomer 
evah day. My, but his pappy did set a lot o' sto' by him 
Dey wasn't nuffin' dat boy eben wished fu' dat his pappy 
didn't gin him. Seemed lak he fa'ly wusshiped him. 

19 



342 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

He'd jes' watch him ez he went erroun' de house lak he 
was a baby yit So hit mus' 'a' been putty ha'd wif Mas' 
Jack when hit come time to sen' Mas' Tho'nton off to 
college. But he never showed it. He seed him off wif 
a cheerful face, an' nobidy would 'a' ever guessed dat it 
hu't him ; but dat afternoon he shet hisse'f up an' hit was 
th'ee days befo' anybody 'cept me seed him, an' nobidy 
'cept me knowed how his vittels come back not teched. 
But after de fus' letter come, he got better. I hyeahd him 
a-laffin' to hisse'f ez he read it, an' dat day he et his 
dinner. 

"Well, honey, dey ain't no tellin' whut Mas' Jack's 
plans was, an' hit ain't fu' me to try an' guess 'em ; but ef 
he had sont Mas' Tho'nton erway to brek him off f'om 
Miss Nellie, he mout ez well 'a' let him stayed at home ; 
fu' Jamieson's Sal whut nussed Miss Nellie tol' me dat 
huh mistis got a letter f'om Mas' Tho'nton evah day er 
so. An' when he was home fu' holidays, you never seed 
nuffin' lak it. Hit was jes' walkin' er ridin' er dribin' wif 
dat young lady evah day of his life. An' dey did look so 
sweet together dat it seemed a shame to pa't 'em him wif 
his big brown eyes an' sof curly hair an' huh all white 
an' gentle lak a little dove. But de ole Mas' couldn't see 
hit dat erway, an' I knowed dat hit was a-troublin' him 
mighty bad. Ez well ez he loved his son, hit allus 
seemed lak he was glad when de holidays was over an' 
de boy was back at college. 

" Endurin' de las' year dat de young Mastah was to be 
erway, his pappy seemed lak he was jes' too happy an* 
res'less fu' anything. He was dat proud of his son, he 
didn't know whut to do. He was allus tellin' visitors dat 
come to de house erbout him, how he was a 'markabl? 



OF PAUL* LAURENCE DUNBAR 343 

boy an' was a-gwine to be a honor to his name. An* 
when 'long to'ds de ve'y end of de term, a letter come 
say in' dat Mas' Tho'nton had done tuk some big honor 
at de college, I jes' thought sho Mas' Jack 'u'd plum bus* 
hisse'f, he was so proud an' tickled. I hyeahd him talkin* 
to his ole frier? Gunnel Mandrey an' mekin' great plans 
'bout whut he gwine to do when his son come home. He 
gwine tek him trav'lin' fus' in Eur'p, so's to 'finish him 
lak a Venable ought to be finished by seein' somep'n' of 
de worP ' dem's his ve'y words. Den he was a-gwine 
to come home an' 'model de house an' fit it up, ' fu' ' I 
never shell fu'git how he said it, ' fu' I 'spec' my son to 
tek a high place in de society of ole Kintucky an' to mo' 
dan surstain de reputation of de Venables.' Den when 
de las' day come an' young Mastah was home fu' sho, so 
fine an* clever lookin' wif his new mustache sich times 
ez dey was erbout dat house nobidy never seed befo'. 
All de frien's an' neighbors, 'scusin', o' co'se, de Jamie- 
sons, was invited to a big dinner dat lasted fu' hours. 
Dey was speeches by de gent'men, an' evahbidy drinked 
de graderate's health an' wished him good luck. But all 
de time I could see dat Mas' Tho'nton wasn't happy, 
dough he was smilin' an' mekin' merry wif evahbidy. It 
'pressed me so dat I spoke erbout hit to Aunt Emmerline. 
Aunt Emmerline was Mas' Tho'nton's mammy, an' sence 
he'd growed up, she didn't do much but he'p erroun' de 
house a little. 

" ' You don' mean to tell me dat you noticed dat too ?' 
says she when I toP huh erbout it. 

" * Yes, I did,' says I, ' an' I noticed hit strong. 1 
" ' Dey's somep'n' ain't gwine right wif my po* chile, 1 
she say, ' an' dey ain't no tellin' whut it is.' 



344 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

" ' Hain't you got no idee, Aunt Emmerline ? ' I say, 

" * La 1 chile,' she say in a way dat mek me think she 
keepin' somep'n' back, * la I chile, don' you know young 
mans don' come to dey mammys wif dey secuts lak dey 
do when dey's babies ? How I gwine to know whut's 
pesterin' Mas' Tho'nton?' 

" Den I knowed she was hidin' somep'n', an* jes 1 to let 
huh know dat I'd been had my eyes open too, I say slow 
an' 'pressive lak, * Aunt Emmerline, don' you reckon hit 
Miss Nellie Jamieson ? ' She jumped lak she was skeered, 
an' looked at me right ha'd ; den she say, * I ain' reck'nin' 
nuffin' 'bout de white folks' bus'ness.' An' she pinched 
huh mouf up right tight, an' I couldn't git another word 
outen huh ; but I knowed dat I'd hit huh jes' erbout right 

" One mo'nin' erbout a week after de big dinner, jes' 
ez dey was eatin', Mas' Tho'nton say, * Father, I'd lak to 
see you in de liberry ez soon ez you has de time. I want 
to speak to you 'bout somep'n' ve'y impo'tant.' De ole 
man look up right quick an' sha'p, but he say ve'y quiet 
lak, * Ve'y well, my son, ve'y well ; I's at yo' service at 
once.' 

" Dey went into de liberry, an' Mas' Tho'nton shet de 
do' behin' him. I could hyeah dem talkin' kin' o' low 
while I was cl'arin' erway de dishes. After while dey 
'menced to talk louder. I had to go out an' dus' de hall 
den near de liberry do', an' once I hyeahd ole Mas' say 
right sho't an' sha'p, * Never ! ' Pen young Mas' he say, 
4 But evah man has de right to choose fu' his own se'f.' 

" * Man, man ! ' I hyeahd his pappy say in a way I had 
never hyeahd him use to his son befo', * evah male bein' 
dat wahs men's clothes an' has a m istache ain't a man.' 

" ' Man er whut not,' po' young Mastah's voice was a 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 345 

tremblin', * I am at leas' my father's son an' I deserve bet 
ter dan dis at his han's.' I hyeahd somebody a-walkin' 
de flo', an' I was feared dey'd come out an' think dat I 
was a-listenin', so I dus'es on furder down de hall, an' 
didn't hyeah no mo' ontwell Mas' Tho'ntoncome hurryin' 
out an' say, ' Ike, saddle my hoss.' He was ez pale ez he 
could be, an' when he spoke sho't an' rough lak dat, he 
was so much lak his father dat hit skeered me. Ez soon 
ez his hoss was ready, he jumped into de saddle an' went 
fly in' outen de ya'd lak mad, never eben lookin' back at 
de house. I didn't see Mas' Jack fu' de res' of de day, 
an' he didn't come in to suppah. But I seed Aunt Em- 
merline an' I knowed dat she had been somewhah an* 
knowed ez much ez I did erbout whut was gwine on, bir 
I never broached a word erbout hit to huh. I seed she 
was oneasy, but I kep' still 'twell she say, * Whut you 
reckon keepin' Mas' Tho'nton out so late ? ' Den I jes 
say, ' I ain't reck'nin' 'bout de white folks' bus' ness.' She 
looked a little bit cut at fus', den she jes' go on lak nuffin' 
hadn't happened : * I's mighty 'sturbed 'bout young 
Mas' ; he never stays erway f'om suppah 'dout say in' 
somep'nV 

" ' Oh, I reckon he kin fin' suppah somewhah else/ I 
says dis don't keer lak jes' fu' to lead huh on. 

" * I ain't so much pestered 'bout his suppah, 1 she say ; 
' Fs feared he gwine do somep'n' he hadn't ought to do 
after dat qua'l 'twixt him an' his pappy.' 

" ' Did dey have a qua'l ? ' says I. 

" ' G'long ! ' Aunt Emmerline say, ' you wasn't dus'in* 
one place in de hall so long fu' nuffin'. You knows an' I 
knows eben ef we don't talk a heap. I's troubled myse'f. 
Hit jes' in dat Venable blood to go right straight an' git 



346 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

Miss Nellie an' ma'y huh right erway, an' ef he do it, I 
p'intly know his pa '11 never fu'give him.' Den Aunt 
Emmerline 'mence to cry, an' I feel right sorry fu' huh, 
'ca'se Mas' Tho'nton huh boy, an' she think a mighty 
heap o' him. 

" Well, we hadn't had time to say much mo' when we 
hyeahd a hoss gallopin' into de ya'd. Aunt Emmerline 
jes' say, ' Dat's Gineral's lope ! ' an' she bus' outen de do/' 
I waits, 'spectin' huh to come back an' say dat Mas p 
Tho'nton done come at las'. But after while she come in 
wif a mighty long face an' say, 'Hit's one o' Jamieson's 
darkies ; he brung de hoss back an' a note Mas' gin him 
fu' his pappy. Mas' Tho'nton done gone to Lexm'ton 
wif Miss Nellie an' got ma'ied.' Den she jes' brek down 
an' 'mence a-cryin' ergin an' a-rockin' huhse'f back an 1 
fofe an' sayin', * Oh, my po' chile, my po' boy, whut's to 
'come o' you ! ' 

" I went up-stairs an' lef huh we bofe stayed at de big 
house but I didn't sleep much, 'ca'se all thoo de night I 
could hyeah ole Mas' a-walkin' back an' fofe ercross his 
flo', an' when Aunt Emmerline come up to baid, she 
mou'ned all night, eben in huh sleep. I tell you, honey, 
dem was mou'nin' times. 

" Nex' mo'nin' when ole Mas' come down to brekfus', 
he looked lak he done had a long spell o' sickness. But 
he wasn't no man to 'spose his feelin's. He never let on, 
never eben spoke erbout Mas' Tho'nton bein' erway f'om 
de table. He didn't eat much, an' fm'ly I see him look 
right long an' stiddy at de place whah Mas' Tho'nton 
used to set an' den git up an' go 'way f'om de table. I 
knowed dat he was done filled up. I went to de liberry 
do* an' I could hyeah him sobbin' lak a chile. I tol 1 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 347 

Aunt Emmerline 'bout it, but she jes' shuck huh haid an' 
didn't say nuffin' a' -tall. 

" Well, hit went dis erway fu' 'bout a week. Mas' 
Jack was gittin' paler an' paler evah day, an' hit jes' 
'menced to come to my min' how ole he was. One day 
Aunt Emmerline say she gwine erway, an' she mek Jim 
hitch up de spring wagon an' she dribe on erway by 
huhse'f. Co'se, now, Aunt Emmerline she do putty much 
ez she please, so I don't think nuffin' 'bout hit. When 
she come back, 'long to'ds ebenin', I say, ' Aunt Emmer 
line, whah you been all day ? ' 

" ' Nemmine, honey, you see,' she say, an' laff. Well, 
I ain't seed nobidy laff fu' so long dat hit jes' mek me feel 
right wa'm erroun' my hea't, an' I laff an' keep on lafnn' 
jes' at nuffin'. 

" Nex' mo'nin' Aunt Emmerline mighty oneasy, an' I 
don'' know whut de matter ontwell I hyeah some un say, 
' Tek dat hoss, Ike, an' feed him, but keep de saddle on.' 
Aunt Emmerline jes' fa'ly fall out de do' an' I lak to 
drap, 'ca'se hit's Mas' Tho'nton's voice. In a minute he 
come to me an' say, ' Doshy, go tell my father I'd lak to 
speak to him.' 

"I don' skeercely know how I foun' my way to de 
liberry, but I did. Ole Mas' was a-settin' dah wif a open 
book in his han', but his eyes was jes' a-starin' at de wall, 
an' I knowed he wasn't a-readin'. I say, ' Mas' Jack,' an' 
he sta't jes' lak he rousin' up, ' Mas' Jack, Mas' Tho'nton 
want to speak to you.' He jump up quick, an' de 
book fall on de flo', but he grab a cheer an' stiddy hisse'f. 
I done toP you Mas' Jack wasn't no man to 'spose his 
feelin's. He jes' say, slow lak he hol'in' hisse'f, 'Sen' 
him in hyeah.' I goes back an' 'livers de message, den I 



348 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

flies roun' to de po'ch whah de liberry winder opens out, 
'ca'se, I ain't gwine lie erbout it, I was mighty tuk up wif 
all dis gwine on an' I wanted to see an' hyeah, an' who 
you reckon 'roun' dah but Aunt Emmerline 1 She jes' 
say, ' S-sh ! ' ez I come 'roun', an' clas' huh han's. In a 
minute er so, de liberry do' open an' Mas' Tho'nton come 
in. He shet hit behin' him, an' den stood lookin' at his 
pa, dat ain't never tu'ned 'erroun' yit. Den he say sof, 
' Father.' Mas' Jack tu'ned erroun' raal slow an' look at 
his son fu' a while. Den he say, * Do you still honor me 
wif dat name ? ' Mas' Tho'nton got red in de face, but 
he answer, ' I don' know no other name to call you.' 

"'Will you set down?' Mas' speak jes' lak he was 
a-talkin' to a stranger. 

" ' Ef you desiah me to.' I see Mas' Tho'nton was 
a-bridlin' up too. Mas' jes' th'owed back his haid an' 
say, * Fa' be it fom any Venable to fu'git cou'tesy to his 
gues'.' Young Mas' moved erway fom de cheer whah 
he was a-gwine to set, an' his haid went up. He spoke 
up slow an' delibut, jes' lak his pa, * I do not come, suh, 
in dat cha'acter, I is hyeah ez yo' son.' 

"Well, ole Mas' eyes fa'ly snapped nah. He was 
white ez a sheet, but he still spoke slow an' quiet, hit 
made me creep, ' You air late in 'memberin' yo' relation 
ship, suh.' 

" ' I hab never fu'got it.' 

" * Den, suh, you have thought mo' of yo' rights dan 
of yo' duties.' Mas' Jack was mad an' so was Mas' 
Tho'nton ; he say, ' I didn't come hyeah to 'scuss dat.' 
An' he tu'ned to'ds de do'. I hyeah Aunt Emmerline 
groan jes' ez Mas' say, * Well, whut did you come fu' ? ' 

" ' To be insulted in my father's house by my father, 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 349 

an' Fs got all dat I come fu' 1 3 Mas' Tho'nton was ez 
white ez his pa now, 'an' his han' was on de do'-knob. 
Den all of a sudden I hyeah de winder go up, an' I lak 
to fall over gittin' outen de way to keep f om bein' seed. 
Aunt Emmerline done opened de winder an' gone in. 
Dey bofe tu'ned an' looked at huh s'prised lak, an' Mas' 
Jack sta'ted to say somep'n', but she th'owed up huh 
han' an' say, * Wait ! ' lak she owned de house. * Mas 1 
Jack,' she say, * you an' Mas' Tho'nton ain't gwine pa't 
dis way. You mus'n't. You's father an' son. You 
loves one another. I knows I ain't got no bus' ness 
meddlin' in yo' 'fairs, but I cain't see you all qua'l dis 
way. Mastah, you's bofe stiffnecked. You's bofe wrong. 
I know Mas' Tho'nton didn't min' you, but he didn't 
mean no ha'm he couldn't he'p it it was in de Venable 
blood, an' you mus'n't 'spise him fu 1 it' 

" ' Emmerline ' ole Mas' tried to git in a word, but 
she wouldn't let him. 

" ' Yes, Mastah, yes, but I nussed dat boy an' tuk keer 
o' him when he was a little bit of a he'pless thing; an 1 
when his po' mammy went to glory, I 'member how she 
look up at me wif dem blessed eyes o* hern an' lay him 
in my arms an' say, "Emmerline, tek keer o' my baby" 
Fs done it, Mastah, Fs done it de bes' I could. Ts 
nussed him thoo sickness when hit seemed lak his little 
soul mus' foller his mother anyhow, but Fs seen de look 
in yo' eyes, an' prayed to God to gin de chile back to 
you. He done it, he done it, an' you sha'n't th'ow erway 
de gif of God ! ' Aunt Emmerline was a-cryin' an' so 
was Mas' Tho'nton. Ole Mas' mighty red, but. he clared 
his th'oat an' said wif his voice tremblin', * Emmerlinej 
leave de room.' De ole ooman come out a-cryin' lak 



350 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

huh hea't 'u'd brek, an' jes' ez de do' shet behin' huh, ole 
Mas' brek down an' hoi' out his arms, cryin', * My son, 
my son.' An' in a minute he an' Mas' Tho'nton was 
a-hol'in' one another lak dey'd never let go, an' his pa 
was a-pattin' de boy's haid lak he was a baby. All of a 
sudden ole Mas' heP him off an' looked at him an' say, 
1 Dat ole fool talkin' to me erbout yo' mother's eyes, an' 
you stannin' hyeah a-lookin' at me wif 'em.' An' den he 
was a-cryin' ergin, an' dey was bofe huggin'. 

" Well, after while dey got all settled down, an' Mas' 
Tho'nton toP his pa how Aunt Emmerline drib to Lexin'- 
ton an' foun' him an' made him come home. ' I was 
wrong, father,' he say, 'but I reckon ef it hadn't 'a' been 
fu' Aunt Emmerline, I would 'a' stuck it out.' 

" ' It was in de Venable blood,' his pa say, an' dey bofe 
laff. Den ole Mas' say, kin' o' lak it hu't him, 'An' 
whah's yo' wife ? ' Young Mas' got mighty red ergin ez 
he answer, ' She ain't fu' erway.' 

" ' Go bring huh,' Mas' Jack say. 

" Well, I reckon Mas' Tho'nton lak to flew, an' he had 
Miss Nellie dah in little er no time. When dey come, 
Mas' he say, ' Come hyeah/ den he pause awhile ' my 
daughter.' Den Miss Nellie run to him, an' dey was an 
other cryin' time, an' I went on to my work an' lef 'em 
talkin' an' laffin' an' cryin'. 

" Well, Aunt Emmerline was skeered to def. She jes' 
p'intly knowed dat she was gwine to git a tongue-lashin'. 
I don' know whether she was mos' skeered er mos' happy. 
Mas' sont fu' huh after while, an' I listened when she 
went in. He was tryin' to talk an' look pow'ful stern, 
but I seed a twinkle in his eye. He say, ' I want you to 
know, Emmerline, dat hit ain't yo' place to dictate to yo' 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 351 

mastah whut he shell do Shet up, shet up 1 I don* 

want a word outen you. You been on dis place so longj 
an' been bossin' de other darkies an' yo' Mas' Tho'nton 
erroun' so long, dat I 'low you think you own de place. 
Shet up, not a word outen you ! Ef you an' yo' young 
Mas' 's a-gwine to run dis place, I reckon I'd better step 
out. Humph ! You was so sma't to go to Lexin'ton de 
other day, you kin go back dah ergin. You seem to 
think you's white, an' hyeah's de money to buy a new 
dress fu' de ole fool darky dat nussed yo' son an' made 
you fu'give his foo'ishness when you wanted to be a fool 
yo'se'f.' His voice was sof ergin, an' he put de money 
in Aunt Emmerline's han' an' pushed huh out de do', huh 
a-cryin' an' him put' nigh it. 

" After dis, Mas' Jack was jes' bent an' boun' dat de 
young people mus' go on a weddin' trip. So dey got 
ready, an' Miss Nellie went an' toP huh pa goo'-bye. 
Min' you, dey hadn't been nuffin' said 'bout him an' Mas' 
not bein' frien's. He done fu'give Miss Nellie right 
erway fu' runnin' off. But de mo'nin' dey went erway, 
we all was out in de ya'd, an' Aunt Emmerline settin' on 
de seat wif Jim, lookin' ez proud ez you please. Mastah 
was ez happy ez a boy. * Emmerline,' he hollahs ez dey 
drib off, 'tek good keer o' dat Venable blood.' De 
ca'iage stopped ez it went out de gate, an' Mas' Tom 
Jamieson kissed his daughter. He had rid up de road to 
see de las' of huh. Mastah seed him, an' all of a sudden 
somep'n' seemed to tek holt o' him an' he hollahed, 
* Come in, Tom/ 

" ' Don' keer ef I do,' Mas' Jamieson say, a-tu'nin' his 
hoss in de gate. * You Venables has got de res' o' my 
fambly.' We all was mos' s' prised to def. 



352 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

" Mas' Jamieson jumped off en his boss, an* Mas' 
Venable come down de steps to meet him. Dey shuk 
han's, an* Mas' Jack say, * Dey ain't no fool lak a ole 
fool/ 1 

" ' An' fu' unekaled foo'ishness,' Mas' Tom say, ' recker- 
men' me to two ole fools/ Dey went into de house 
a-laffin', an' I knowed hit was all right '"twixt 'em, fu' 
putty soon I seed Ike out in de ya'd a-getherin' mint" 




OLD AUNT DOSHY 




Ilk 




MANDY MASON 



JIMSELLA 

No one could ever have accused Mandy Mason of be 
ing thrifty. For the first twenty years of her life condi 
tions had not taught her the necessity for thrift. But that 
was before she had come North with Jim. Down there 
at (jome one either rented or owned a plot of ground with 
a shanty set in the middle of it, and lived off the products 
of one's own garden and coop. But here it was all very 
different: one room in a crowded tenement house, and 
the necessity of grinding day after day to keep the wolf 
a very terrible and ravenous wolf from the door. No 
wonder that Mandy was discouraged and finally gave up 
to more than her old shiftless ways. 

Jim was no less disheartened. He had been so hopeful 
when he 'first came, and had really worked hard. Bui. he 
could not go higher than his one stuffy room, and the 
food was not so good as it had been at home. In this 
state of mind, Mandy's shiftlessness irritated him. He 
grew to look on her as the source of all his disappoint 
ments. Then, as he walked Sixth or Seventh Avenue, he 
saw other colored women who dressed gayer than 
Mandy, looked smarter, and did not wear such great 
shoes. These he contrasted with his wife, to her great 
disadvantage. 

" Mandy," he said to her one day, " why don't you fix 
yo'se'f up an' look like people? You go 'roun' hyeah 
lookin' like I dunno what" 

355 



356 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

" Whyn't you git me somep'n' to fix myse'f up in ? " 
came back the disconcerting answer. 

" Ef you had any git up erbout you, you'd git somep'n* 
fu' yo'se'f an' not wait on me to do evahthing." 

" Well, ef I waits on you, you keeps me waiting fu' I 
ain' had nothin' fit to eat ner waih since I been up 
hyeah." 

" Nev' min' ! You's mighty free wid yo' talk now, but 
some o' dese days you won't be so free. You's gwine to 
wake up some mo'nin' an' fin' dat Fs lit out ; dat's what 
you will." 

" Well, I 'low nobody ain't got no string to you." 

Mandy took Jim's threat as an idle one, so she could 
afford to be independent. But the next day had found 
him gone. The deserted wife wept for a time, for she had 
been fond of Jim, and then she set to work to struggle on 
by herself. It was a dismal effort, and the people about her 
were not kind to her. She was hardly of their class. She 
was only a simple, honest countrywoman, who did not go 
out with them to walk the avenue. 

When a month or two afterwards the sheepish Jim 
returned, ragged and dirty, she had forgiven him and 
taken him back. But immunity from punishment spoiled 
him, and hence of late his lapses had grown more frequent 
and of longer duration. 

He walked in one morning, after one of his absences, 
with a more than usually forbidding face, for he had heard 
the news in the neighborhood before he got in. During 
his absence a baby had come to share the poverty of his 
home. He thought with shame at himself, which turned 
into anger, that the child must be three months old and 
he had never seen it 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 357 

"Back ag'in, Jim?" was all Mandy said as he entered 
and seated himself sullenly. 

" Yes, Fs back, but I ain't back fu' long. I jes' come 
to git my clothes. Fs a-gwine away fu' good." 

" Gwine away ag'in ! Why, you been gone fu' nigh on 
to fou' months a' ready. Ain't you nevah gwine to stay 
home no mo' ?" 

" I tol' you I was gwine away fu' good, didn't I ? Well, 
dat's what I mean." 

" Ef you didn't want me, Jim, I wish to Gawd dat you'd 
'a' lef me back home among my folks, whaih people 
knowed me an' would 'a' give me a helpin' han'. Dis 
hyeah No'f ain't no fittin' place fu' a lone colo'ed ooman 
less'n she got money." 

" It ain' t no place fu' nobody dat's jes' lazy an' no 
'count." 

" I ain't no 'count. I ain't wuffless. I does de bes' I 
kin. I been wo' kin' like a dog to try an' keep up while 
you trapsein' 'roun', de Lawd knows whaih. When I was 
single I could git out an' mek my own livin'. I didn't ax 
nobody no odds ; but you wa'n't satisfied ontwell I ma'ied 
you, an' now, when Fs tied down wid a baby, dat's de 
way you treats me." 

The woman sat down and began to cry, and the sight 
of her tears angered her husband the more. 

" Oh, cry ! " he exclaimed. " Cry all you want to. I 
reckon you'll cry yo' fill befo' you gits me back. What 
do I keer about de baby! Dat's jes' de trouble. It 
wa'n't enough fu' me to have to feed an' clothe you 
a-layin' 'roun' doin' nothin', a baby had to go an' come 
too." 

" It's yo'n, an' you got a right to tek keer of it, dat's 



358 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

what you have. I ain't a-gwine to waih my soul-case 
out a- try in' to pinch along an' sta've to def at las'. I'll 
kill myse'f an' de chile, too, fus'." 

The man looked up quickly. " Kill yo'se'f," he said. 
Then he laughed. " Who evah hyeahed tell of a niggah 
killin' hisse'f ?" 

" Nev' min', nev* min', you jes' go on yo' way rejoicin*. 
I 'spect you runnin' roun' aftah somebody else dat's de 
reason you cain't nevah stay at home no mo'." 

"Who toP you dat?" exclaimed the man, fiercely. " I 
ain't runnin' aftah nobody else 'tain't none o" yo' busi 
ness ef I is." 

The denial and implied confession all came out in one 
breath. 

" Ef hit ain't my bus'ness, I'd like to know whose it 
gwine to be. I's yo' lawful wife an' hit's me dat's a-sta'vin' 
to tek keer of yo' chile." 

" Doggone de chile ; I's tiahed o' hyeahin* 'bout huh." 

" You done got tiahed mighty quick when you ain't 
nevah even seed huh yit. You done got tiahed quick, 
sho." 

" No, an' I do* want to see huh, neithah." 

"You do' know nothin' 'bout de chile, you do' know 
whethah you wants to see huh er not." 

" Look hyeah, ooman, don't you fool wid me. I ain't 
right, nohow ! " 

Just then, as if conscious of the hubbub she had raised, 
and anxious to add to it, the baby awoke and began to 
wail. With quick mother instinct, the black woman went 
to the shabby bed, and, taking the child in her arms, be 
gan to croon softly to it : " Go s'eepy, baby ; don' you 
be T aid ; mammy ain' gwine let nufnn' hu't you, even ef 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 359 

pappy don' wan' look at huh li'l iace. Bye, bye, go 
s'eepy, mammy's li'l gal.' 1 Unconsciously she talked to 
the baby in a dialect that was even softer than usual. 
For a moment the child subsided, and the woman turned 
angrily on her husband : " I don' keer whethah you 
evah sees dis chile er not. She's a blessed li'l angel, dat's 
what she is, an' I'll wo'k my fingahs off to raise huh, an j 
when she grows up, ef any nasty niggah comes erroun' 
mekin' eyes at huh, I'll tell huh 'bout huh pappy an' she'll 
stay wid me an' be my comfo't." 

" Keep yo' comfo't. Gawd knows I do* want huh." 

" De time '11 come, though, an' I kin wait fu' it. Hush- 
a-bye, Jimsella." 

The man turned his head slightly. 

" What you call huh ? " 

" I calls huh Jimsella, dat's what I calls huh, 'ca'se she 
de ve'y spittin' image of you. I gwine to jes' lun to huh 
dat she had a pappy, so she know she's a hones' chile an* 
kin' hoi' up huh haid." 

"Oomph!" 

They were both silent for a while, and then Jim said, 
" Huh name ought to be Jamsella don't you know Jim's 
sho'tfu' James?" 

" I don't keer what it's sho't fu'." The woman was 
holding the baby close to her breast and sobbing now. 
" It wasn't no James dat come a-cou'tin* me down home. 
It was jes' plain Jim. Dat's what de mattah, I reckon 
you done got to be James." Jim didn't answer, and there 
was another space of silence, only interrupted by two or 
three contented gurgles from the baby. 

" I bet two bits she don't look like me," he said finally, 
ui a dogged tone that was a little tinged with curiosity. 



3<5o THE LIFE AND WORKS 

<( I know she do. Look at huh yo'se'f." 

" I ain' gwine look at huh." 

" Yes, you's 'fraid dat's de reason." 

" I ain' 'fraid nuttin' de kin*. What I got to be 'fraia 
fu' ? I reckon a man kin look at his own darter. I will 
look jes' to spite you." 

He couldn't see much but a bundle of rags, from which 
sparkled a pair of beady black eyes. But he put his 
finger down among the rags. The baby seized it and 
gurgled. The sweat broke out on Jim's brow. 

" Cain t you let me hold de baby a minute ? " he said 
angrily. " You must be 'fraid I'll run off wid huh." He 
took the child awkwardly in his arms. 

The boiling over of Mandy's clothes took her to the 
other part of the room, where she was busy for a few 
minutes. When she turned to look for Jim, he had 
slipped out, and Jimsella was lying on the bed trying to 
kick free of the coils which swaddled her. 

At supper-time that evening Jim came in with a piece 
of " shoulder-meat " and a head of cabbage. 

" You'll have to git my dinnah ready fu' me to ca'y to 
morrer. Fs wo'kin' on de street, an' I cain't come home 
twell night." 

"Wha', what!" exclaimed Mandy, "den you am' 
gwine leave, aftah all." 

" Don't bothah me, ooman," said Jim. " Is Jimsella 
'sleep?" 



THE WALLS OF JERICHO 

PARKER was sitting alone under the shade of a locust 
tree at the edge of a field His head was bent and he 
was deep in thought. Every now and then there floated 
to him the sound of vociferous singing, and occasionally 
above the music rose the cry of some shouting brother or 
sister. But he remained in his attitude of meditation as 
if the singing and the cries meant nothing to him. 

They did, however, mean much, and, despite his out 
ward impassiveness, his heart was in a tumult of wounded 
pride and resentment. He had always been so faithful to 
his flock, constant in attendance and careful of their wel 
fare. Now it was very hard, at the first call of the stranger 
to have them leave their old pastor and crowd to the new 
exhorter. 

It was nearly a week before that a free negro had got 
permission to hold meetings in the wood adjoining the 
Mordaunt estate. He had invited the negroes of the sur- 
.ounding plantations to come and bring their baskets 
with them that they might serve the body while they 
saved the soul. By ones and twos Parker had seen his 
congregation drop away from him until now, in the cabin 
meeting house where he held forth, only a few retainers, 
such as Mandy and Dinah and some of the older ones on 
the plantation, were present to hear him. It grieved his 
heart, for he had been with his flock in sickness and in 
distress, in sorrow and in trouble, but now, at the first ap 
proach of the rival they could and did desert him He 

361 



362 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

felt it the more keenly because he knew just how power 
ful this man Johnson was. He was loud-voiced and 
theatrical, and the fact that he invited all to bring their 
baskets gave his scheme added influence ; for his congre 
gations flocked to the meetings as to a holy picnic. It 
was seldom that they were thus able to satisfy both the 
spiritual and material longings at the same time. 

Parker had gone once to the meeting and had hung 
unobserved on the edge of the crowd ; then he saw by 
what power the preacher held the people. Every night^ 
at the very height of the service, he would command the 
baskets to be opened and the people, following the ex 
ample of the children of Israel, to march, munching their 
food, round and round the inclosure, as their Biblical 
archetypes had marched around the walls of Jericho. 
Parker looked on and smiled grimly. He knew, and the 
sensational revivalist knew, that there were no walls there 
to tumble down, and that the spiritual significance of the 
performance was entirely lost upon the people. What 
ever may be said of the Mordaunt plantation exhorter, he 
was at least no hypocrite, and he saw clearly that his rival 
gave to the emotional negroes a breathing chance and 
opportunity to eat and a way to indulge their dancing pro 
clivities by marching trippingly to a spirited tune. 

He went away in disgust and anger, but thoughts 
deeper than either burned within him. He was thinking 
some such thoughts now as he sat there on the edge of 
the field listening to the noise of the basket meeting. It 
was unfortunate for his peace of mind that while he sat 
there absorbed in resentful musings two of the young men 
of his master's household should come along. They did 
not know how Parker felt about the matter, or they never 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 363 

would have allowed themselves to tease him on the score 
of his people's defection. 

" Well, Parker," said Ralph, " seems mighty strange to 
me that you are not down there in the woods at the meet- 
ing." 

The old man was silent. 

" I am rather surprised at Parker myself," said Tom 
Mordaunt; "knowing how he enjoys a good sermon I 
expected him to be over there. They do say that man 
Johnson is a mighty preacher." 

Still Parker was silent. 

" Most of your congregation are over there," Ralph re 
sumed. Then the old exhorter, stung into reply, raised 
his head and said quietly : 

" Dat ain't nuffin' strange, Mas' Ralph. I been preachin' 
de gospel on yo' father's plantation, night aftah night, 
nigh on to twenty-five years, an' spite o' dat, mos' o' my 
congregation is in hell." 

" That doesn't speak very well for your preaching/' said 
Ralph, and the two young fellows laughed heartily. 

" Come, Parker, come, don't be jealous ; come on over 
to the meeting with us, and let us see what it is that 
Johnson has that you haven't. You know any man can 
get a congregation about him, but it takes some particular 
power to hold them after they are caught." 

Parker rose slowly from the ground and reluctantly 
joined his two young masters as they made their way 
towards the woods. The service was in full swing. At a 
long black log, far to the front, there knelt a line of 
mourners wailing and praying, while the preacher stood 
above them waving his hands and calling on them to be 
lieve and be saved. Every now and then some one vol- 



364 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

untarily broke into a song, either a stirring, marching 
spiritual or some soft crooning melody that took strange 
hold upon the hearts of even the most skeptical listeners. 
As they approached and joined the crowd some one had 
just swung into the undulating lilt of 

"Some one buried in de graveyard, 

Some one buried in de sea, 
All come togethah in de mo'nin', 
Go soun' de Jubilee." 

Just the word " Jubilee " was enough to start the whole 
throng into agitated life, and they moaned and shouted 
and wailed until the forest became a pandemonium. 

Johnson, the preacher, saw Parker approach with the 
two young men and a sudden spirit of conquest took pos 
session of him. He felt that he owed it to himself to 
crystallize his triumph over the elder exhorter. So, with 
a glance that begged for approbation, he called aloud : 

" Open de baskets ! Rise up, fu' de Jericho walls o' sin 
is a-stan'in'. You 'member dey ma' died roun' seven 
times, an 7 at de sevent' time de walls a-begun to shake 
an' shiver ; de foundations a-begun to trimble ; de chillen 
a-hyeahed de rum'lin' lak a thundah f om on high, an' 
putty soon down come de walls a-fallin' an' a-crum lin' ! 
Oh, brothahs an' sistahs, let us a-ma'ch erroun' de walls o'' 
Jericho to-night seven times, an' a-eatin' o' de food dat 
de Lawd has pervided us wid. Dey ain't no walls o' 
brick an' stone a-stan'in' hyeah to-night, but by de eye o' 
Christian faif I see a great big wall o' sin a-stan'in' strong 
an' thick hyeah in ouah midst. Is we gwine to let it 
Stan'?" 

" Oh, no, no 1 " moaned the people. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 365 

" Is we gwine to ma'ch erroun' dat wall de same ez 
Joshuay an' his ban 5 did in de days of oP, ontwell we 
hyeah de cracklin' an' de rum'lin', de breakin' an' de 
taihin', de onsettlin' of de foundations an' de fallin 1 of de 
stones an' mo'tah?" Then raising his voice he broke 
into the song : 

" Den we'll ma'ch, ma'ch down, ma'cb, ma'ch down, 
Oh, chillen, ma'ch down, 
In de day o' Jubilee." 

The congregation joined him in the ringing chorus, and 
springing to their feet began marching around and around 
the inclosure, chewing vigorously in the breathing spaces 
of the hymn. 

The two young men, who were too used to such sights 
to be provoked to laughter, nudged each other and bent 
their looks upon Parker, who stood with bowed head, re 
fusing to join in the performance, and sighed audibly. 

After the march Tom and Ralph started for home, and 
Parker went with them. 

"He's very effective, don't you think so, Tom?" said 
Ralph. 

" Immensely so," was the reply. " I don't know that I 
have ever seen such a moving spectacle." 

" The people seem greatly taken up with him." 

"Personal magnetism, that's what it is. Don't you 
think so, Parker?" 

" Hum," said Parker. 

" It's a wonderful idea of his, that marching around the 
walls of sin." 

" So original, too. It's a wonder you never thought of 
a thing like that, Parker. I believe it would have held 



3 66 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

your people to you in the face of everything. They do 
love to eat and march." 

"Well," said Parker, "you all may think what you 
please, but I ain't nevah made no business of mekin' a 
play show outen de Bible. Dem folks don't know what 
dey're doin'. Why, ef dem niggahs hyeahed anything 
commence to fall they'd taih dat place up gittin' erway 
f'om daih. It's a wondah de Lawd don' sen' a jedgmen' 
on 'em fu' tu'nin' his wo'd into mockery." 

The two young men bit their lips and a knowing glance 
flashed between them. The same idea had leaped into 
both of their minds at once. They said no word to 
Parker, however, save at parting, and then they only 
begged that he would go again the next night of the 
meeting. 

"You must, Parker," said Ralph. "You must repre 
sent the spiritual interest of the plantation. If you don't, 
that man Johnson will think we are heathen or that our 
exhorter is afraid of him." 

At the name of fear the old preacher bridled and said 
with angry dignity : 

" Nemmine, nemmine ; he shan't nevah think dat I'll 
be daih." 

Parker went alone to his cabin, sore at heart ; the young 
men, a little regretful that they had stung him a bit too 
far, went up to the big house, their heads close together, 
and in the darkness and stillness there came to them the 
hymns of the people. 

On the next night Parker went early to the meeting- 
place and, braced by the spirit of his defiance, took a 
conspicuous front seat. His face gave no sign, though 
his heart throbbed angrily as he saw the best and most 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 367 

trusted of his flock come in with intent faces and seat 
themselves anxiously to await the advent of an alien. 
Why had those rascally boys compelled him for his own 
dignity's sake to come there ? Why had they forced him 
to be a living witness of his own degradation and of his 
own people's ingratitude ? 

But Parker was a diplomat, and when the hymns began 
he joined his voice with the voices of the rest. 

Something, though, tugged at Parker's breast, a vague 
hoped-for something ; he knew not what the promise of 
relief from the tension of his jealousy, the harbinger of 
revenge. It was in the air. Everything was tense as if 
awaiting the moment of catastrophe. He found himself 
joyous, and when Johnson arose on the wings of his elo 
quence it was Parker's loud " Amen " which set fire to all 
the throng. Then, when the meeting was going well, 
when the spiritual fire had been thoroughly kindled and 
had gone from crackling to roaring ; when the hymns 
were loudest and the hand-clapping strongest, the reviv 
alist called upon them to rise and march around the walls 
of Jericho. Parker rose with the rest, and, though he had 
no basket, he levied on the store of a solicitous sister and 
marched with them, singing, singing, but waiting, wait 
ing for he knew not what. 

It was the fifth time around and yet nothing had hap 
pened. Then the sixth, and a rumbling sound was heard 
near at hand. A tree crashed down on one side. White 
eyes were rolled in the direction of the noise and the bur 
den of the hymn was left to the few faithful. Half way 
around and the bellow of a horn broke upon the startled 
people's ears, and the hymn sank lower and lower. The 
preacher's face was ashen, but he attempted to inspire the 



368 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

people, until on the seventh turn such a rumbling and 
such a clattering, such a tumbling of rocks, such a falling 
of trees as was never heard before gave horror to the 
night. The people paused for one moment and then the 
remains of the bread and meat were cast to the winds, 
baskets were thrown away, and the congregation, thor 
oughly maddened with fear, made one rush for the road 
and the quarters. Ahead of them all, his long coat-tails 
flying and his legs making not steps but leaps, was the 
Rev. Mr. Johnson. He had no word of courage or hope 
to offer the frightened flock behind him. Only Parker, 
with some perception of the situation, stood his ground. 
He had leaped upon a log and was crying aloud : 

" Stan' still, stan' still, I say, an' see de salvation," but 
he got only frightened, backward glances as the place was 
Cleared. 

When they were all gone, he got down off the log and 
went to where several of the trees had fallen. He saw 
that they had been cut nearly through during the day on 
the side away from the clearing, and ropes were still along 
the upper parts of their trunks. Then he chuckled softly 
to himself. As he stood there in the dim light of the fat- 
pine torches that were burning themselves out, two 
stealthy figures made their way out of the surrounding 
gloom into the open space. Tom and Ralph were hold 
ing their sides, and Parker, with a hand on the shoulder 
of each of the boys, laughed unrighteously. 

" Well, he hyeahed de rum'lin' an' crum'lm'," he said, 
and Ralph gasped. 

" You're the only one who stood your ground, Parker," 
said Tom. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 369 

" How erbout de walls o' Jericho now ?" was all Parker 
could say as he doubled up. 

When the people came back to their senses they began 
to realize that the Rev. Mr. Johnson had not the qualities 
of a leader. Then they recalled how Parker had stood 
still in spite of the noise and called them to wait and see 
the salvation, and so, with a rush of emotional feeling, 
they went back to their old allegiance. Parker's meeting 
house again was filled, and for lack of worshipers Mr. 
Johnson held no more meetings and marched no more 
around the walls of Jericho. 




'STAN' STILL, STAN' STILL, AN' SEE DE SALVATION" 




His EYES WERE BRIGHT, AND HE WAS BREATHING 
QUICKLY 






HOW BROTHER PARKER FELL 
FROM GRACE 

IT all happened so long ago that it has almost been 
forgotten upon the plantation, and few save the older 
heads know anything about it save from hearsay. It was 
in Parker's younger days, but the tale was told on him 
for a long time, until he was so old that every little dis 
paragement cut him like a knife. Then the young scape 
graces who had the story only from their mothers' lips 
spared his dotage. Even to young eyes, the respect 
which hedges about the form of eighty obscures many of 
the imperfections that are apparent at twenty-eight, and 
Parker was nearing eighty. 

The truth of it is that Parker, armed with the authority 
which his master thought the due of the plantation ex- 
horter, was wont to use his power with rather too free a 
rein. He was so earnest for the spiritual welfare of his 
fellow servants that his watchful ministrations became a 
nuisance and a bore. 

Even Aunt Doshy, who was famous for her devotion to 
all that pertained to the church, had been heard to state 
that " Brothah Pahkah was a moughty powahful 'zortah, 
but he sholy was monst'ous biggity." This from a mem 
ber of his flock old enough to be his mother, quite 
summed up the plantation's estimate of this black disciple. 

There was many a time when it would have gone hard 
with Brother Parker among the young bucks on the 
Mordaunt plantation but that there was scarcely one of 
them but could remember a time when Parker had come 

373 



374 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

to his cabin to console some sick one, help a seeker comfort 
the dying or close the eyes of one already dead, and it 
clothed him about with a sacredness, which, however mir'fc 
inclined, they dared not invade. 

"Ain't it enough," Mandy's Jim used to ;jay, " m* 
Brothah Pahkah to 'tend to his business down at meetin' 
widout spookin' 'roun' all de cabins an' outhouses ? Seems 
to me dey's enough dev'ment gwine on right undah his 
nose widout him gwine 'roun' tryin' to smell out what's hid." 

Every secret sinner on the place agreed with this 
dictum, and it came to the preacher's ears. He smiled 
broadly. 

"Uh, huh," he remarked, "hit's de stuck pig dat 
squeals. I reckon Jim's up to somep'n' right now, an' I 
lay I'll fin' out what dat somep'n' is " Parker was a 
subtle philosopher and Jim had by his remark unwittingly 
disclosed his interest in the preacher's doings. It then 
behooved his zealous disciple to find out the source of this 
unusual interest and opposition. 

On the Sunday following his sermon was strong, fiery 
and convincing. His congregation gave themselves up 
to the joy of the occasion and lost all consciousness of 
time or place in their emotional ecstasy. But, although 
he continued to move them with his eloquence not for 
one moment did Parker lose possession of himself. His 
eyes roamed over the people before him and took in the 
absence of several who had most loudly and heartily 
agreed with Jim's dictum. Jim himself was not there. 

" Uh, huh," said the minister to himself even in the 
midst of his exhortations. "Uh, huh, erway on some 
dev'ment, I be boun'." He could hardly wait to hurry 
through his sermon. Then he seized his hat and almost 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 375 

ran away from the little table that did duty as a pulpit 
desk. He brushed aside with scant ceremony those who 
would have asked him to their cabins to share some 
special delicacy, and made his way swiftly to the door. 
There he paused and cast a wondering glance about the 
plantation. 

" I des wondah whaih dem scoun'els is mos' lakly to 
be." Then his eye fell upon an old half-ruined smoke 
house that stood between the kitchen and the negro 
quarters, and he murmured to himself, " Lak ez not, lak 
ez not." But he did not start directly for the object of 
his suspicions. Oh, no, he was too deep a diplomat for 
that. He knew that if there were wrong-doers in that 
innocent-looking ruin they would be watching in his 
direction about the time when they expected meeting to 
be out ; so he walked off swiftly, but carelessly, in an op 
posite direction, and, instead of going straight past the 
kitchen, began to circle around from the direction of the 
quarters, whence no danger would be apprehended. 

As he drew nearer and nearer the place, he thought he 
heard the rise and fall of eager voices. He approached 
more cautiously. Now he was perfectly sure that he 
could hear smothered conversation, and he smiled grimly 
as he pictured to himself the surprise of his quarry when 
he should come up with them. He was almost upon the 
smoke-house now. Those within were so absorbed that 
the preacher was able to creep up and peer through a 
crack at the scene within. 

There, seated upon the earthen floor, were the un- 
regenerate of the plantation. In the very midst of them 
was Mandy's Jim, and he was dealing from a pack of 
greasy cards. 



376 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

It is a wonder that they did not hear the preacher's 
gasp of horror as he stood there gazing upon the 
iniquitous performance. But they did not. The delight 
of High-Low-Jack was too absorbing for that, and they 
suspected nothing of Parker's presence until he slipped 
around to the door, pushed it open and confronted them 
like an accusing angel. 

Jim leaped to his feet with a strong word upon his lips. 

" I reckon you done fu'got, Brothah Jim, what day dis 
is," said the preacher. 

<( I ain't fu'got nuffin'," was the dogged reply ; " I don't 
see what you doin' roun' hyeah nohow." 

" I's a lookin' aftah some strayin' lambs," said Parker, 
"an' I done foun' 'em. You ought to be ashamed o' 
yo'se'ves, evah one o' you, playin' cyards on de Lawd'^ 
day." 

There was the lijjht of reckless deviltry in Jim's eyes. 

" Dey ain't no h i'm in a little game o' cyards." 

" Co'se not, co' e not," replied the preacher scornfully 
" Dem's des de s*'ns that's ca'ied many a man to hell wii 
his eyes wide op^n, de little no-ha'm kin'." 

"I don't reckon you evah played cyards," said Jim 
sneeringly. 

"Yes, I has played, an' I thought I was enjoyin' 
myse'f ontwell I foun' out dat it was all wickedness an' 
idleness." 

" Oh, I don't reckon you was evah ve'y much of a 
player. I know lots o' men who has got uligion des 
case dey couldn't win at cyards." 

The company greeted this sally with a laugh and then 
looked aghast at Jim's audacity. 

" Uligfion's a moughty savin' to de pocket," Jim went 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 377 

on. " We kin believe what we wants to, and I say you 
nevah was no play ah, an' dat's de reason you tuk up de 
Gospel." 

" Hit ain't so. I 'low dey was a time when I could 'a' 
outplayed any one o' you sinnahs hyeah, but " 

" Prove it 1 " The challenge shot forth like a pistol's 
report. 

Parker hesitated. " What you mean ? " he said. 

" Beat me, beat all of us, an' we'll believe you didn't 
quit playin' case you allus lost. You a preachah now, an* 
I daih you." 

Parker's face turned ashen and his hands gripped to 
gether. He was young then, and the hot blood sped 
tumultuously through his veins. 

" Prove it," said Jim ; " you cain't. We'd play you 
outen yo' coat an' back into de pulpit ag'in." 

" You would, would you ? " The light of battle was in 
Parker's eyes, the desire for conquest throbbing in his 
heart. " Look a' hyeah, Jim, Sunday er no Sunday, 
preachah er no preachah, I play you th'ee games fu' de 
Gospel's sake." And the preacher sat down in the circle, 
his face tense with anger at his tormentor's insinuations. 
He did not see the others around him. He saw only Jim, 
the man who had spoken against his cloth. He did not 
see the look of awe and surprise upon the faces of the 
others, nor did he note that one of the assembly slipped 
out of the shed just as the game began. 

Jim found the preacher no mean antagonist, but it mat 
tered little to him whether he won or not His triumph 
was complete when he succeeded in getting this man, 
who kept the conscience of the plantation, to sin as others 

sinned. 
21 



THE LIFE AND WORKS 

" I see you ain't fu'got yo' cunnin'," he remarked as the 
preacher dealt in turn. 

" 'Tain't no time to talk now," said Parker fiercely. 

The excitement of the onlookers grew more and more 
intense. They were six and six, and it was the preacher's 
deal. His eyes were bright, and he was breathing quickly. 
Parker was a born fighter and nothing gave him more joy 
than the heat of the battle itself. He riffled the cards. 
Jim cut. He dealt and turned Jack. Jim laughed. 

" You know the trick," he said. 

" Dat's one game," said Parker, and bent over the cards 
as they came to him. He did not hear a light step out 
side nor did he see a shadow that fell across the open 
doorway. He was just about to lead when a cold voice, 
full of contempt, broke upon his ear and made him keep 
the card he would have played poised in his hand. 

" And so these are your after-meeting diversions, are 
they, Parker?" said his master's voice. 

Stuart Mordaunt was standing in the door, his face 
cold and stern, while his informant grinned maliciously. 

Parker brushed his hand across his brow as if 
dazed. 

" Well, Mas' Stua't, he do play monst'ous well fu' a 
preachah," said his tempter. 

The preacher at these words looked steadily at Jim, and 
then the realization of his position burst upon him. The 
tiger in him came uppermost and, with flaming eyes, he 
took a quick step towards Jim. 

" Stop," said Mordaunt, coming between them ; " don't 
add anything- more to what ybu have already done." 

" Mas* Stua't, I I " Parker broke down, and, turn 
ing away from the exultant faces, rushed headlong out of 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 379 

the place. His master followed more leisurely, angry and 
hurt at the hypocrisy of a trusted servant. 

Of course the game was over for that day, but Jim and 
his companions hung around the smoke-house for some 
time, rejoicing in the downfall of their enemy. Afterwards, 
they went to their cabins for dinner. Then Jim made a 
mistake. With much laughter and boasting he told 
Mandy all about it, and then suddenly awakened to the 
fact that she was listening to him with a face on which 
only horror was written. Jim turned to his meal in silence 
and disgust. A woman has no sense of humor. 

" Whaih you gwine ? " he asked, as Mandy began put 
ting on her bonnet and shawl with ominous precision. 

" Fs gwine up to be big house, dat's whaih Fs gwine." 

" What you gwine daih fu' ? " 

" Fs gwine to tell Mas' Stua't all erbout hit." 

" Don't you daih." 

" Heish yo' mouf. Don't you talk to me, you nasty, 
low-life scamp. Fs gwine tell Mas' Stua't, an' I hope an' 
pray he'll tek all de hide often yo' back." 

Jim sat in bewildered misery as Mandy flirted out of the 
cabin ; he felt vaguely some of the hopelessness of defeat 
which comes to a man whenever he attempts to lay 
sacrilegious hands on a woman's religion or what stands 
to her for religion. 

Parker was sitting alone in his cabin with bowed head 
when the door opened and his master came across the 
floor and laid his hand gently on the negro's shoulder. 

" I didn't know how it was, Parker," he said softly. 

" Oh, Fs back-slid, Fs fell from grace," moaned Parker. 

" Nonsense," said his master, " you've fallen from 
nothing. There are times when we've got to meet the 



380 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

devil on his own ground and fight him with his own 
weapons." 

Parker raised his head gladly. " Say dem wo'ds ag'in, 
Mas' Stua't," h e said. 

His master repeated the words, but added : " But it 
isn't safe to go into the devil's camp too often, Parker." 

" I ain't gwine into his camp no mo.' Aftah dis I's 
gwine to stan' outside an' hollah in." His face was beam, 
ing and his voice trembled with joy. 

" I didn't think I'd preach to-night," he said timidly. 

" Of course you will," said Mordaunt, " and your mis 
tress and I are coming to hear you, so do your best." 

His master went out and Parker went down on his 
knees. 

He did preach that night and the plantation remem 
bered the sermon, 



JIM'S PROBATION 

FOR so long a time had Jim been known as the hardest 
sinner on the plantation that no one had tried to reach the 
heart under his outward shell even in camp-meeting and 
revival times. Even good old Brother Parker, who was 
ever looking after the lost and straying sheep, gave him 
up as beyond recall. 

"Dat Jim," he said, " Oomph, de debbil done got his 
stamp on dat boy, an' dey ain' no use in tryin' to scratch 
hit off." 

" But Parker," said his master, " that's the very sort 
of man you want to save. Don't you know it's your 
business as a man of the gospel to call sinners to re 
pentance ? " 

" Lawd, Mas' Mordaunt," exclaimed the old man, " my 
v'ice done got hoa'se callin' Jim, too long ergo to talk 
erbout. You jes' got to let him go 'long, maybe some o 1 
dese days he gwine slip up on de gospel an' fall plum* 
inter salvation." 

Even Mandy, Jim's wife, had attempted to urge the old 
man to some more active efforts in her husband's behalf. 
She was a pillar of the church herself, and was woefully 
disturbed about the condition of Jim's soul. Indeed, it 
was said that half of the time it was Mandy's prayers and 
exhortations that drove Jim into the woods with his dog 
and his axe, or an old gun that he had come into posses 
sion of from one of the younger Mordaunts. 

Jim was unregenerate. He was a fighter, a hard 

381 



382 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

drinker, fiddled on Sunday, and had been known to go 
out hunting on that sacred day. So it startled the whole 
place when Mandy announced one day to a few of her 
intimate friends that she believed " Jim was under con 
viction." He had stolen out hunting one Sunday night 
and in passing through the swamp had gotten himself 
thoroughly wet and chilled, and this had brought on an 
attack of acute rheumatism, which Mandy had pointed 
out to him as a direct judgment of heaven. Jim scoffed 
at first, but Mandy grew more and more earnest, and 
finally, with the racking of the pain, he waxed serious and 
(determined to look to the state of his soul as a means to 
the good of his body. 

" Hit do seem," Mandy said, " dat Jim feel de weight 
o' his sins mos' powahful." 

" I reckon hit's de rheumatics/' said Dinah. 

" Don' mek no diffunce what de inst'ument is," Mandy 
replied, " hit's de 'suit, hit's de 'suit" 

When the news reached Stuart Mordaunt's ears he be 
came intensely interested. Anything that would convert 
Jim, and make a model Christian of him would be provi 
dential on that plantation. It would save the overseers 
many an hour's worry ; his horses, many a secret ride ; 
and the other servants, many a broken head. So he 
again went down to labor with Parker in the interest of 
the sinner. 

" Is he mou'nin' yit?" said Parker. 

" No, not yet, but I think now is a good time to sow the 
seeds in his mind." 

" Oomph," said the old man, " reckon you bettah let 
Jim alone twell dem sins o' his'n git him to tossin' an* 
cry in' an' a mou'nin'. Den' 11 be time enough to strive 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 383 

wid him. I's allus willin' to do my pa't, Mas' Stuart, but 
w'en hit comes to oF time sinnahs lak Jim, I believe in 
layin' off, an' lettin' de sperit do de strivin'." 

" But Parker," said his master, " you yourself know that 
the Bible says that the spirit will not always strive." 

" Well, la den, Mas', you don' spec' I gwine outdo de 
sperit." 

But Stuart Mordaunt was particularly anxious that Jim's 
steps might be turned in the right direction. He knew 
just what a strong hold over their minds the Negroes' 
own emotional religion had, and he felt that could he once 
get Jim inside the pale of the church, and put him on 
guard of his salvation, it would mean the loss of fewer of 
his shoats and pullets. So he approached the old preacher, 
and said in a confidential tone, 

" Now look here, Parker, I've got a fine lot of that good 
old tobacco you like so up to the big house, and I'll tell 
you what I'll do. If you'll just try to work on Jim, and 
get his feet in the right path, you can come up and take 
all you want." 

" Oom-oomph," said the old man, " dat sho' is mon- 
st'ous fine terbaccer, Mas' Stua't." 

" Yes, it is, and you shall have all you want of it." 

" Well, I'll have a little wisit wid Jim, an' des' see how 
much he 'fected, an' if dey any stroke to be put in fu' de 
gospel ahmy, you des' count on me ez a mighty strong 
wa'ior. Dat boy been layin' heavy on my mind fu' lo, 
dese many days." 

As a result of this agreement, the old man went down 
to Jim's cabin on a night when that interesting sinner was 
suffering particularly from his rheumatic pains. 

" Well, Jim," the preacher said, " how you come on ? * 



384 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

"Po'ly, po'ly," said Jim, "I des' plum' racked an' 
'stracted f'om haid to foot." 

" Uh, huh, hit do seem lak to me de Bible don' tell 
nuffin' else but de trufe." 

" What de Bible been sayin' now ? " asked Jim sus 
piciously. 

" Des' what it been sayin' all de res' o j de time. 'Yo' 
sins will fin' you out.' " 

Jim groaned and turned uneasily in his chair. The old 
man saw that he had made a point and pursued it. 

" Don' you reckon now, Jim, ef you was a bettah man 
dat you wouldn' suflah so ? " 

" I do' know, I do' know nuffin' 'bout hit." 

" Now des' look at me. I ben a-trompin' erlong in dis 
low groun' o' sorrer fu' mo' den seventy yeahs, an' I hain't 
got a ache ner a pain. Nevah had no rheumatics in my 
life, an' yere you is, a young man, in a mannah o' speakin', 
all twinged up wid rheumatics. Now what dat p'nt to ? 
Hit mean de Lawd tek keer o' dem dat's his'n. Now 
Jim, you bettah come ovah on de Lawd's side, an' git 
erway f'om yo' ebil doin's." 

Jim groaned again, and lifted his swollen leg with an 
effort just as Brother Parker said, " Let us pray." 

The prayer itself was less effective than the request was 
just at that time, for Jim was so stiff that it made him 
fairly howl with pain to get down on his knees. The old 
man's supplication was loud, deep, and diplomatic, and 
when they arose from their knees there were tears in 
Jim's eyes, but whether from cramp or contrition it is 
not safe to say. But a day or two after, the visit bore 
fruit in the appearance of Jim at meeting where he sat 
on one of the very last benches, his shoulders hunched, 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 385 

and his head bowed, unmistakable signs of the convicted 
sinner. 

The usual term of mourning passed, and Jim was con 
verted, much to Mandy's joy, and Brother Parker's delight. 
The old man called early on his master after the meeting, 
and announced the success of his labors. Stuart Mor- 
daunt himself was no less pleased than the preacher. He 
shook Parker warmly by the hand, patted him on the 
shoulder, and called him a " sly old fox." And then he 
took him to the cupboard, and gave him of his store of 
good tobacco, enough to last him for months. Something 
else, too, he must have given him, for the old man came 
away from the cupboard grinning broadly, and ostenta 
tiously wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. 

" Great work you've done, Parker, a great work." 

"Yes, yes, Mas'," grinned the old man, "now ef Jim 
can des' stan' out his p'obation, hit' 11 be monstrous 
fine." 

" His probation ! " exclaimed the master. 

" Oh, yes suh, yes suh, we has all de young convu'ts 
stan' a p'obation o* six months, fo' we teks 'em reg'lar 
inter de chu'ch. Now ef Jim will des' stan' strong in de 
faif " 

" Parker," said Mordaunt, " you're an old wretch, and 
I've got a mind to take every bit of that tobacco away 
from you. No. I'll tell you what I'll do." 

He went back to the cupboard and got as much again 
as he had given Parker, and handed it to him, saying : 

" I think it will be better for all concerned if Jim's pro 
bation only lasts two months. Get him into the fold, 
Parker, get him into the fold 1 " And he shoved the an 
cient exhorter out of the door. 



386 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

It grieved Jim that he could not go 'possum hunting 
on Sundays any more, but shortly after he got religion, 
his rheumatism seemed to take a turn for the better and 
he felt that the result was worth the sacrifice. But as the 
pain decreased in his legs and arms, the longing for his 
old wicked pleasures became stronger and stronger upon 
him, though Mandy thought that he was living out the 
period of his probation in the most exemplary manner, 
and inwardly rejoiced. 

It was two weeks before he was to be regularly ad 
mitted to church fellowship. His industrious spouse had 
decked him out in a bleached cotton shirt in which to at 
tend divine service, In the morning Jim was there. The 
sermon which Brother Parker preached was powerful, but 
somehow it failed to reach this new convert. His gaze 
roved out of the window towards the dark line of the 
woods beyond, where the frost still glistened on the trees 
and where he knew the persimmons were hanging ripe. 
Jim was present at the afternoon service also, for it was 
a great day ; and again, he was preoccupied. He started 
and clasped his hands together until the bones cracked, 
when a dog barked somewhere out on the hill. The sun 
was going down over the tops of the woodland trees, 
throwing the forest into gloom, as they came out of the 
log meeting-house. Jim paused and looked lovingly at 
the scene, and sighed as he turned his steps back towards 
the cabin. 

That night Mandy went to church alone. Jim had dis 
appeared. Nowhere around was his axe, and Spot, his 
dog, was gone. Mandy looked over towards the woods 
whose tops were feathered against the frosty sky, and 
away off, she heard a dog bark. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 387 

Brother Parker was feeling his way home from meeting 
late that night, when all of a sudden, he came upon a 
man creeping towards the quarters. The man had an axe 
and a dog, and over his shoulders hung a bag in which 
the outlines of a 'possum could be seen. 

" Hi, oh, Brothah Jim, at it agin ? " 

Jim did not reply. " Well, des' heish up an' go 'long. 
We got to mek some 'lowances fu' you young convu'ts. 
Wen you gwine cook dat 'possum, Brothah Jim ? " 

' I do' know, Brothah Pahkah. He so po', I 'low I 
haveter keep him and fatten him fu' awhile." 

"Uh, huh! well, so long, Jim." 

" So long, Brothah Pahkah." Jim chuckled as he went 
away. " I 'low I fool dat ol' fox. Wanter come down 
an' eat up my one little 'possum, do he? huh, uh ! " 

So that very night Jim scraped his 'possum, and hung 
it out-of-doors, and the next day, brown as the forest 
whence it came, it lay on a great platter on Jim's table. 
It was a fat 'possum, too. Jim had just whetted his knife, 
and Mandy had just finished the blessing when the latch 
was lifted and Brother Parker stepped in. 

" Hi, oh, Brothah Jim, Ps des in time" 

Jim sat with his mouth open. "Draw up a cheer, 
Brothah Pahkah," said Mandy Her husband rose, and 
put his hand over the 'possum. 

" Wha wha'd you come hyeah fu' ? " he asked. 

" I thought Fd des' come in an' tek a bite wid you." 

" Ain' gwine tek no bite wid me," said Jim. 

" Heish/' said Mandy, " wha' kin' o' way is dat to talk 
to de preachah ? " 

" Preachah or no preachah, you hyeah what I say," and 
he took the 'possum, and put it on the highest shelf. 



388 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

" Wha's de mattah wid you, Jim? dat' s one o' de 'quiah- 
ments o' de chu'ch." 

The angry man turned to the preacher. 

" Is it one o' de 'quiahments o' de chu'ch dat you eat 
hyeah ter-night ? " 

"Hit sholy am usual fu' de shepherd to sup where vah 
he stop," said Parker, suavely. 

" Ve'y well, ve'y well," said Jim, " I wants you to know 
dat I 'specs to stay out o' yo' chu'ch. Fs got two weeks 
mo' p'obation. You tek hit back, an' gin hit to de nex' 
niggah you ketches wid a 'possum." 

Mandy was horrified. The preacher looked longingly 
at the 'possum, and took up his hat to go. 

There were two disappointed men on the plantation 
when he told his master the next day the outcome of 
Jim's probation. 




DAT JIM 




"You OLD SCOUNDREL," SAID A WELL-KNOWN VOICE 



A SUPPER BY PROXY 

THERE was an air of suppressed excitement about the 
whole plantation. The big old house stared gravely out 
as if it could tell great things if it would, and the cabins 
in the quarters looked prophetic. The very dogs were on 
the alert, and there was expectancy even in the eyes of the 
piccaninnies who rolled in the dust. Something was go 
ing to happen. There was no denying that. The wind 
whispered it to the trees and the trees nodded. 

Then there was a clatter of horses' hoofs, the crack of 
a whip. The bays with the family carriage swept round 
the drive and halted at the front porch. Julius was on the 
box, resplendent in his holiday livery. This was the signal 
for a general awakening. The old house leered an irri 
tating " I told you so." The quarters looked complacent. 
The dogs ran and barked, the piccaninnies laughed and 
shouted^ the servants gathered on the lawn and, in the 
midst of it all, the master and mistress came down the 
steps and got into the carriage. Another crack of the 
whip, a shout from the servants, more antics from the 
piccaninnies, the scurrying of the dogs and the vehicle 
rumbled out of sight behind a clump of maples. Immedi 
ately the big house resumed its natural appearance and 
the quarters settled back into whitewashed respectability. 

Mr. and Mrs. Mordaunt were of! for a week's visit. The 
boys were away at school, and here was the plantation 
left in charge of the negroes themselves, except for the 
presence of an overseer who did not live on the place. 



392 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

The conditions seemed pregnant of many things, but a 
calm fell on the place as if every one had decided to be 
particularly upon his good behavior. The piccaninnies 
were subdued. The butlers in the big house bowed with 
wonderful deference to the maids as they passed them hi 
the halls, and the maids called the butlers " mister " when 
they spoke to them. Only now and again from the fields 
could a song be heard. All this was ominous. 

By the time that night came many things were changed. 
The hilarity of the little darkies had grown, and although 
the house servants still remained gravely quiet, on the re 
turn of the field hands the quarters became frankly joy 
ous. From one cabin to another could be heard the 
sound of " Juba, Juba 1 " and the loud patting of hands 
and the shuffling of feet. Now and again some voice 
could be heard rising above the rest, improvising a verse 
of the song, as : 

"Mas' done gone to Philamundelphy, Juba, Juba. 
Lef ' us bacon, lef ' us co'n braid, Juba, Juba. 
Oh, Juba dis an' Juba dat, an' Juba skinned de yaller cat 
To mek his wife a Sunday hat, oh, Juba ! " 

Not long did the sounds continue to issue from isolated 
points. The people began drifting together, and when a 
goodly number had gathered at a large cabin, the inevita 
ble thing happened. Some one brought out a banjo and 
a dance followed. 

Meanwhile, from the vantage ground of the big house, 
the more favored servants looked disdainfully on, and at 
the same time consulted together. That they should do 
something to entertain themselves was only right and 
proper. No one of ordinary intelligence could think for 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 393 

a moment of letting this opportunity slip without taking 
advantage of it. But a dance such as the quarters had ! 
Bah ! They could never think of it. That rude, informal 
affair 1 And these black aristocrats turned up their noses. 
No, theirs must be a grave and dignified affair, such as 
their master himself would have given, and they would 
send out invitations to some on the neighboring planta 
tions. 

It was Julius, the coachman, who, after winning around 
the head butler, Anderson, insisted that they ought to 
give a grand supper. Julius would have gone on without 
the butler's consent had it not been that Anderson carried 
the keys. So the matter was canvassed and settled. 

The next business was the invitations, but no one could 
write. Still, this was a slight matter ; for neatly folded 
envelopes were carried about to the different favored 
ones, containing nothing, while at the same time the in 
vitations were proffered by word of mouth. 

" Hi, dah ! " cried Jim to Julius, on the evening that the 
cards had been distributed ; " I ain't seed my inbitation 
yit." 

" You needn't keep yo' eyes bucked looking fu' none, 
neithah," replied Julius. 

" Uh, puttin' on airs, is you ? " 

" I don't caih to convuss wid you jest now," said Julius 
pompously. 

Jim guffawed. " Well, of all de sights I evah seed, a 
dahky coachman offen de box tryin' to look lak he on it ! 
Go 'long, Julius, er you'll sholy kill me, man." 

The coachman strode on with angry dignity. 

It had been announced that the supper was to be a 
"ladies' an' gent'men's pahty," and so but few from the 



394 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

quarters were asked. The quarters were naturally angry 
and a bit envious, for they were but human and not yet 
intelligent enough to recognize the vast social gulf that 
yawned between the blacks at the " big house " and the 
blacks who were quartered in the cabins. 

The night of the grand affair arrived, and the Mordaunt 
mansion was as resplendent as it had ever been for one 
of the master's festivities. The drawing-rooms were gaily 
festooned, and the long dining-room was a blaze of light 
from the wax candles that shone on the glory of the Mor 
daunt plate. Nothing but the best had satisfied Julius 
and Anderson. By nine o'clock the outside guests began 
to arrive. They were the dark aristocrats of the region. 
It was a well-dressed assembly, too. Plump brown arms 
lay against the dainty folds of gleaming muslin, and 
white-stocked, brass-buttoned black counterparts of their 
masters strode up the walks. There were Dudley Stone's 
Gideon and Martha, Robert Curtis' Ike with Dely, and 
there were Quinn, and Doshy, and, over them all, Aunt 
Tempe to keep them straight. Of these was the company 
that sat down to Stuart Mordaunt's board. 

After some rivalry, Anderson held the head of the table, 
while Julius was appeased by being placed on the right 
beside his favorite lady. Aunt Tempe was opposite the 
host where she could reprove any unseemly levity or 
tendency to skylarking on the part of the young people. 
No state dinner ever began with more dignity. The con 
versation was nothing less than stately, and everybody 
bowed to everybody else every time they thought about 
it. This condition of affairs obtained through the soup. 
Somebody ventured a joke and there was even a light 
laugh during the fish. By the advent of the entree the 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 395 

tongues of the assembly had loosened up, and their 
laughter had melted and flowed as freely as Stuart Mor- 
daunt's wine. 

" Well, I mus' say, Mistah An'erson, dis is sholy a mos* 
saiub'ious occasion." 

" Thank you, Mistah Cu'tis, thank you ; it ah allus my 
endeavoh to mek my gues'es feel deyse'ves at home. 
Let me give you some mo' of dis wine. It's f'om de bes' 
dat's in my cellah." 

" Seems lak I remembah de vintage," said Ike, sipping 
slowly and with the air of a connoisseur. 

" Oh, yes, you drinked some o' dis on de 'casion of my 
darter's ma'ige to Mas' to Mistah Daniels." 

" I ricollec', yes, I ricollec'." 

" Des lis'en at dem dahkies," said the voice of a listen 
ing field hand. 

Gideon, as was his wont, was saying deeply serious 
things to Martha, and Quinn whispered something in 
Doshy's ear that made her giggle hysterically and cry : 
" Now, Mr. Quinn, ain't you scan'lous ? You des seem 
lak you possessed dis evenin'." 

In due time, however, the ladies withdrew, and the gen 
tlemen were left over their cigars and cognac. It was 
then that one of the boys detailed to wait on the table 
came in and announced to the host that a tramp was 
without begging for something to eat. At the same in 
stant the straggler's face appeared at the door, a poor, 
unkempt-looking white fellow with a very dirty face. 
Anderson cast a look over his shoulder at him and com 
manded pompously : 

" Tek him to de kitchen an' give him all he wants." 

The fellow went away very humbly. 



22 



396 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

In a few minutes Aunt Tempe opened the dining-room 
door and came in. 

44 An'erson," she cried in a whisper. 

44 Madam," said the butler rising in dignity, 4< excuse 
me but " 

41 Hyeah, don't you come no foolishness wid me ; I ain't 
no madam. Fs tiahed playing fine lady. I done been 
out to de kitchen, an' I don' lak dat tramp's face an 1 
fo'm." 

* 4 Well, madam," said Anderson urbanely, 44 we haven't 
asked you to ma'y him." 

At this there was a burst of laughter from the table. 

44 Nemmine, nemmine, I tell you, I don' lak dat tramp's 
face an' fo'm, an' you'd bettah keep yo' eye skinned, er 
you'll be laughin' on de othah side o' yo' mouf." 

The butler gently pushed the old lady out, but as the 
door closed behind her she was still saying, " I don' lak 
dat tramp's face an' fo'm." 

Unused to playing fine lady so long, Aunt Tempe 
deserted her charges and went back to the kitchen, but 
the 44 straggler man " had gone. It is a good thing she 
did not go around the veranda, where the windows of the 
dining-room opened, or she would have been considera 
bly disturbed to see the tramp peeping through the blinds 
evidently at the Mordaunt plate that sparkled con 
spicuously on the table. 

Anderson with his hand in his coat, quite after the 
manner of Stuart Mordaunt, made a brief speech in which 
he thanked his guests for the honor they had done him in 
coming to his humble home. " I know," he said, 4< I 
have done my po' bes' ; but at some latah day I hopes to 
entertain you in a mannah dat de position an' character 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 397 

of de gent' men hyeah assembled desuves. Let us now 
jine de ladies." 

His hand was on the door and all the gentlemen were 
on their feet when suddenly the window was thrown up 
and in stepped the straggler. 

" W'y, w'y, how daih you, suh, invade my p'emises ? " 
asked Anderson, casting a withering glance at the in 
truder, who stood gazing around him. 

" Leave de room dis minute ! " cried Julius, anxious to 
be in the fray. But the tramp's eyes were fastened on 
Anderson. Finally he raised one finger and pointed at 
him. 

" You old scoundrel," he said in a well-known voice, as 
he snatched off his beard and wig and threw aside his 
disguising duster and stood before them. 

" Mas' Stu'at I" 

" You old scoundrel, you ! I've caught you, have I ? " 

Anderson was speechless and transfixed, but the others 
were not, and they had cleared that room before the 
master's linen duster was well off. In a moment the 
shuffling of feet ceased and the lights went out in the 
parlor. The two stood there alone, facing each other 

" Mas' Stu'at." 

" Silence," said Mordaunt, raising his hand, and taking 
a step towards the trembling culprit. 

" Don' hit me now, Mas' Stu'at, don' hit me ontwell I's 
kin' o' shuk off yo' pussonality. Ef you do, it'll be des' 
de same ez thumpin' yo'se'f." 

Mordaunt turned quickly and stood for a moment look 
ing through the window, but his shoulders shook. 

" Well," he said, turning ; " do you think you've at last 
relieved yourself of my personality ? " 



398 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

" I don't know, I don't know. De gyahment sho' do 
fit monst'ous tight." 

"Humph. You take my food, you take my wine, 
you take my cigars, and now even my personality isn't 
safe. 

" Look here, what on earth do you mean by entertain 
ing half the darkies in the county in my dining-room ? " 

Anderson scratched his head and thought. Then he 
said : " Well, look hyeah, Mas' Stu'at, dis hyeah wasn't 
rightly my suppah noways." 

" Not your supper ! Whose was it ? " 

"Yo'n." 

"Mine?" 

"Yes, suh." 

" Why, what's the matter with you, Anderson ? Next 
thing you'll be telling me that I planned it all, and invited 
all those servants." 

" Lemme 'splain it, Mas', lemme 'splain it. Now I 
didn't give dat suppah as An'erson. I give it ez Mas' 
Stu'at Mordaunt; an' Quinn an' Ike an' Gidjon, dey 
didn't come hi' deyse'ves, dey come fu' Mas' Cu'tis, an* 
Mas' Dudley Stone. Don' you un'erstan', Mas' Stu'at? 
We wasn' we-all, we was you-all." 

" That's very plain ; and in other words, I gave a sup 
per by proxy, and all my friends responded in the same 
manner ? " 

" Well, ef dat means what I said, dat's it." 

" Your reasoning is extremely profound, Anderson., It 
does you great credit, but if I followed your plan I should 
give you the thrashing you deserve by proxy. That 
would just suit you. So instead of that I am going to 
feed you, for the next day or so, by that ingenious 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 399 

method. You go down and tell Jim that I want him up 
here early to-morrow morning to eat your breakfast." 

" Oh, Mas' Stu'at ! Whup me, whup me, but don't tell 
dose dahkies in de quahtahs, an' don't sta've me ! " For 
Anderson loved the good things of life. 

" Go." 

Anderson went, and Mordaunt gave himself up to 
mirth. 

The quarters got their laugh out of Anderson's dis 
comfiture. Jim lived high for a day, but rumors from 
the kitchen say that the butler did not really suffer on ac 
count of his supper by proxy. 



THE FAITH CURE MAN 

HOPE is tenacious. It goes on living and working 
when science has dealt it what should be its death-blow. 

In the close room at the top of the old tenement house 
little Lucy lay wasting away with a relentless disease. 
The doctor had said at the beginning of the winter that 
she could not live. Now he said that he could do no 
more for her except to ease the few days that remained 
for the child. 

But Martha Benson would not believe him. She was 
confident that doctors were not infallible. Anyhow, this 
one wasn't, for she saw life and health ahead for her little 
one. 

Did not the preacher at the Mission Home say : " Ask, 
and ye shall receive " ? and had she not asked and asked 
again the life of her child, her last and only one, at the 
hands of him whom she worshiped ? 

No, Lucy was not going to die. What she needed was 
country air and a place to run about in. She had been 
housed up too much ; these long Northern winters were 
too severe for her, and that was what made her so pinched 
and thin and weak. She must have air, and she should 
have it. 

" Po* little lammie," she said to the child, " mammy's 
little gal boun' to git well. Mammy gwine sen' huh out 
in de country when the spring comes, whaih she kin roll 
in de grass an' pick flowers an' git good an' strong. Don' 
baby want to go to de country ? Don' baby want to see 

400 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 401 

de sun shine ? " And the child had looked up at her with 
wide, bright eyes, tossed her thin arms and moaned for 
reply, 

" Nemmine, we gwine fool dat doctah. Some day 
we'll th'ow all his nassy medicine 'way, an 1 he come in 
an' say : ' Whaih's all my medicine ? ' Den we answeh 
up sma't like : ' We done th'owed it out. We don' need 
no nassy medicine.' Den he look 'roun' an' say : ' Who 
dat I see runnin' roun' de flo' hyeah, a-lookin' so fat ? ' 
an' you up an' say : * Hit's me, dat's who 'tis, mistah 
doctor man ! ' Den he go out an' slam de do' behin' 
him. Am' dat fine ? " 

But the child had closed her eyes, too weak even to 
listen. So her mother kissed her little thin forehead and 
tiptoed out, sending in a child from across the hall to take 
care of Lucy while she was at work, for sick as the little 
one was she could not stay at home and nurse her. 

Hope grasps at a straw, and it was quite in keeping- 
with the condition of Martha's mind that she should open 
her ears and her heart when they told her of the wonder 
ful works of the faith-cure man. People had gone to him 
on crutches, and he had touched or rubbed them and they 
had come away whole. He had gone to the homes of the 
bed-ridden, and they had risen up to bless him. It was 
so easy for her to believe it all. The only religion she 
had never known, the wild, emotional religion of most of 
her race, put her credulity to stronger tests than that. 
Her only question was, would such a man come to her 
humble room. But she put away even this thought. He 
must come. She would make him. Already she saw 
Lucy strong, and running about like a mouse, the joy of 
her heart and the light of her eyes. 



402 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

As soon as she could get time she went humbly to see 
the faith doctor, and laid her case before him, hoping, 
fearing, trembling. 

Yes, he would come. Her heart leaped for joy. 

" There is no place," said the faith curist, " too humble 
for the messenger of heaven to enter. I am following 
One who went among the humblest and the lowliest, and 
was not ashamed to be found among publicans and sinners. 
I will come to your child, madam, and put her again un 
der the law. The law of life is health, and no one who 
will accept the law need be sick. I am not a physician. 
I do not claim to be. I only claim to teach people how 
not to be sick. My fee is five dollars, merely to defray 
my expenses, that's all. You know the servant is worthy 
of his hire. And in this little bottle here I have an elixir 
which has never been known to fail in any of the things 
claimed for it. Since the world has got used to taking 
medicine we must make some concessions to its preju 
dices. But this in reality is not a medicine at all. It is 
only a symbol. It is really liquefied prayer and faith." 

Martha did not understand anything of what he was 
saying. She did not try to ; she did not want to. She 
only felt a blind trust in him that filled her heart with un 
speakable gladness. 

Tremulous with excitement, she doled out her poor dol 
lars to him, seized the precious elixir and hurried away 
home to Lucy, to whom she was carrying life and strength. 
The little one made a weak attempt to smile at her 
mother, but the light flickered away and died into gray- 
ness on her face. 

" Now mammy's little gal gwine to git well fu' sho'. 
Mammy done bring huh somep'n' good." Awed and 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 403 

reverent, she tasted the wonderful elixir before giving it 
to the child. It tasted very like sweetened water to her, but 
she knew that it was not, and had no doubt of its virtues 

Lucy swallowed it as she swallowed everything her 
mother brought to her. Poor little one ! She had noth 
ing to buoy her up or to fight science with. 

In the course of an hour her mother gave her the medi 
cine again, and persuaded herself that there was a per 
ceptible brightening in her daughter's face. 

Mrs. Mason, Caroline's mother, called across the hall : 
" How Lucy dis evenin', Mis' Benson ? " 

" Oh, I think Lucy air right peart," Martha replied 
" Come over an' look at huh." 

Mrs. Mason came, and the mother told her about the 
new faith doctor and his wonderful powers. 

" Why, Mis' Mason," she said, " 'pears like I could see 
de change in de child de minute she swallowed dat medi 
cine." 

Her neighbor listened in silence, but when she went 
back to her own room it was to shake her head and mur 
mur : " Po' Marfy, she jes' ez blind ez a bat. She jes' go 
'long, holdin' on to dat chile wid all huh might, an' I see 
death in Lucy's face now. Dey ain't no faif nur prayer, 
nur jack-leg doctors nuther gwine to save huh." 

But Martha needed no pity then. She was happy in 
her self-delusion. 

On the morrow the faith doctor came to see Lucy, She 
had not seemed so well that morning, even to her mother, 
who remained at home until the doctor arrived. He car 
ried a conquering air, and a baggy umbrella, the latter of 
which he laid across the foot of the bed as he bent over 
the moaning child. 



404 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

" Give me some brown paper," he commanded. 

Martha hastened to obey, and the priestly practitioner 
dampened it in water and laid it on Lucy's head, all the 
time murmuring prayers or were they incantations ? 
to himself. Then he placed pieces of the paper on the 
soles of the child's feet and on the palms of her hands, 
and bound them there. 

When all this was done he knelt down and prayed 
aloud, ending with a peculiar version of the Lord's prayer, 
supposed to have mystic effect. Martha was greatly im 
pressed, but through it all Lucy lay and moaned. 

The faith curist rose to go. " Well, we can look to 
have her out in a few days. Remember, my good woman, 
much depends upon you. You must try to keep your 
mind in a state of belief. Are you saved ? " 

" Oh, yes, suh. I'm a puffessor," said Martha, and 
having completed his mission, the man of prayers went 
out, and Caroline again took Martha's place at Lucy's 
side. 

In the next two days Martha saw, or thought she saw, 
a steady improvement in Lucy. According to instruc 
tions, the brown paper was moved every day, moistened, 
and put back. 

Martha had so far spurred her faith that when she went 
out on Saturday morning she promised to bring Lucy 
something good for her Christmas dinner, and a pair of 
shoes against the time of her going out, and also a little 
doll. She brought them home that night. Caroline had 
grown tired and, lighting the lamp, had gone home. 

" I done brung my little lady bird huh somep'n' nice," 
said Martha, " here's a HI' doll and de IIP shoes, honey, 
How's de baby feel ? " Lucy did not answer. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 405 

"You sleep?" Martha went over to the bed. The 
little face was pinched and ashen. The hands were cold. 

"Lucy! Lucyl" called the mother. "Lucy! Oh, 
Gawd 1 It ain't true I She ain't daid ! My little one, 
my las' one 1 " 

She rushed for the elixir and brought it to the bed. The 
thin dead face stared back at her, unresponsive. 

She sank down beside the bed, moaning. " Daid, 
daid, oh, my Gawd, gi' me back my chile ! Oh, don't I 
believe you enough? Oh, Lucy, Lucy, my little lamb! 
I got you yo' gif. Oh, Lucy 1 " 

The next day was set apart for the funeral. The Mis 
sion preacher read : " The Lord giveth and the Lord 
taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord," and some 
one said " Amen ! " But Martha could not echo it in her 
heart Lucy was her last, her one treasured lamb. 



THE WISDOM OF SILENCE 

JEREMIAH ANDERSON was free. He had been free for 
ten years, and he was proud of it. He had been proud 
of it from the beginning, and that was the reason that he 
was one of the first to cast off the bonds of his old 
relations, and move from the plantation and take up land 
for himself. He was anxious to cut himself off from all 
that bound him to his former life. So strong was this 
feeling in him that he would not consent to stay on and 
work for his one-time owner even for a full wage. 

To the proposition of the planter and the gibes of some 
of his more dependent fellows he answered, " No, suh, 
I's free, an' I sholy is able to tek keer o' myse'f. I done 
been fattenin' frogs fu' othah people's snakes too long 



now." 



" But, Jerry," said Samuel Brabant, " I don't mean you 
any harm. The thing's done. You don't belong to me 
any more, but naturally, I take an interest in you, and 
want to do what I can to give you a start. It's more 
than the Northern government has done for you, although 
such wise men ought to know that you have had no 
training in caring for yourselves." 

There was a slight sneer in the Southerner's voice. 
Jerry perceived it and thought it directed against him. 
Instantly his pride rose and his neck stiffened. 

" Nemmine me," he answered, " nemmine me. I's 
free, an' w'en a man's free, he's free." 

" All right, go your own way. You may have to come 

406 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 407 

back to me some time. If you have to come, come. I 
don't blame you now. It must be a great thing to you, 
this dream this nightmare." Jerry looked at him. 
" Oh, it isn't a nightmare now, but some day, maybe, it 
will be, then come to me." 

The master turned away from the newly made free 
man, and Jerry went forth into the world which was 
henceforth to be his. He took with him his few belong 
ings ; these largely represented by his wife and four 
lusty-eating children. Besides, he owned a little money, 
which he had got working for others when his master's 
task was done. Thus, burdened and equipped, he set 
out to tempt Fortune. 

He might do one of two things farm land upon shares 
for one of his short-handed neighbors, or buy a farm, 
mortgage it, and pay for it as he could. As was natural 
for Jerry, and not uncommendable, he chose at once the 
latter course, bargained for his twenty acres for land 
was cheap then, bought his mule, built his cabin, and set 
up his household goods. 

Now, slavery may give a man the habit of work, but 
it cannot imbue him with the natural thrift that long 
years of self-dependence brings. There were times when 
Jerry's freedom tugged too strongly at his easy incli 
nation, drawing him away to idle when he should have 
toiled. What was the use of freedom, asked an inward 
voice, if one might not rest when one would ? If he 
might not stop midway the furrow to listen and laugh at 
a droll story or tell one ? If he might not go a-fishing 
when all the forces of nature invited and the jay-bird 
called from the tree and gave forth saucy banter like the 
fiery, blue shrew that she was ? 



4 o8 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

There were times when his compunction held Jerry to 
his task, but more often he turned an end furrow and laid 
his misgivings snugly under it and was away to the 
woods or the creek. There was joy and a loaf for the 
present. What more could he ask ? 

The first year Fortune laughed at him, and her laugh 
is very different from her smile. She sent the swift rains 
to wash up the new planted seed, and the hungry birds to 
devour them. She sent the fierce sun to scorch the 
young crops, and the clinging weeds to hug the fresh 
greenness of his hope to death. She sent cruelest jest 
of all another. baby to be fed, and so weakened Cindy 
Ann that for many days she could not work beside her 
husband in the fields. 

Poverty began to teach the unlessoned delver in the soil 
the thrift which he needed ; but he ended his first twelve 
months with barely enough to eat, and nothing paid on 
his land or his mule. Broken and discouraged, the 
words of his old master came to him. But he was proud 
with an obstinate pride and he shut his lips together so 
that he might not groan. He would not go to his mas 
ter. Anything rather than that. 

In that place sat certain beasts of prey, dealers, and 
lenders of money, who had their lairs somewhere within 
the boundaries of that wide and mysterious domain called 
The Law. They had their risks to run, but so must all 
beasts that eat flesh or drink blood. To them went 
Jerry, and they were kind to him. They gave him of 
their store. They gave him food and seed, but they 
were to own all that they gave him from what he raised, 
and they were to take their toll first from the new crops. 

Now, the black had been warned against these same 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 409 

beasts, for others had fallen a prey to them even in so 
short a time as their emancipation measured, and they 
saw themselves the re-manacled slaves of a hopeless and 
ever-growing debt, but Jerry would not be warned. He 
chewed the warnings like husks between his teeth, and 
got no substance from them. 

Then, Fortune, who deals in surprises, played him an 
other trick. She smiled upon him. His second year was 
better than his first, and the brokers swore over his paid 
up note. Cindy Ann was strong again and the oldest 
boy was big enough to help with the work. 

Samuel Brabant was displeased, not because he felt 
any malice towards his former servant, but for the reason 
that any man with the natural amount of human vanity 
must feel himself aggrieved just as his cherished prophecy 
is about to come true. Isaiah himself could not have 
been above it. How much less, then, the uninspired Mr. 
Brabant, who had his "I told you so," all ready. He had 
been ready to help Jerry after giving him admonitions, 
but here it was not needed. An unused " I told you so," 
however kindly, is an acid that turns the milk of human 
kindness sour. 

Jerry went on gaining in prosperity. The third year 
treated him better than the second, and the fourth better 
than the third. During the fifth he enlarged his farm and 
his house and took pride in the fact that his oldest boy, 
Matthew, was away at school. By the tenth year of his 
freedom he was arrogantly out of debt. Then his pride 
was too much for him. During all these years of his 
struggle the words of his master had been as gall in his 
mouth. Now he spat them out with a boast. He talked 
much in the market-place, and where many people gath- 



410 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

ered, he was much there, giving himself as a bright and 
shining example. 

" Huh," he would chuckle to any listeners he could 
find, " OF Mas' Brabant, he say, ' Stay hyeah, stay 
hyeah, you do' know how to tek keer o' yo'se'f yit.' 
But I des' look at my two han's an' I say to myse'f, whut 
I been doin' wid dese all dese yeahs tekin' keer o' my- 
se'f an' him, too. I wo'k in de fiel', he set in de big 
house an' smoke. I wo'k in de fieP, his son go away to 
college an' come back a graduate. Das hit. Well, w'en 
freedom come, I des' bent an' boun' I ain' gwine do it no 
mo' an' I didn't. Now look at me. I sets down w'en I 
wants to. I does my own wo' kin' an' my own smokin'o 
I don't owe a cent, an' dis yeah my boy gwine graduate 
f'om de school. Dat's me, an' I ain' called on oF Mas' 
yit." 

Now, an example is always an odious thing, because, 
first of all, it is always insolent even when it is bad, and 
there were those who listened to Jerry who had not been 
so successful as he, some even who had stayed on the 
plantation and as yet did not even own the mule they 
ploughed with. The hearts of those were filled with 
rage and their mouths with envy. Some of the sting of 
the latter got into their re-telling of Jerry's talk and made 
it worse than it was. 

Old Samuel Brabant laughed and said, " Well, Jerry's 
not dead yet, and although I don't wish him any harm, 
my prophecy might come true yet." 

There were others who, hearing, did not laugh, or if 
they did, it was with a mere strained thinning of the lips 
that had no element of mirth in it. Temper and toler 
ance were short ten years after sixty-three. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 411 

The foolish farmer's boastings bore fruit, and one 
night when he and his family had gone to church he re 
turned to find his house and barn in ashes, his mules 
burned and his crop ruined. It had been very quietly 
done and quickly. The glare against the sky had at 
tracted few from the near-by town, and them too late to 
be of service. 

Jerry camped that night across the road from what re 
mained of his former dwelling. Cindy Ann and the chil 
dren, worn out and worried, went to sleep in spite of 
themselves, but he sat there all night long, his chin be 
tween his knees, gazing at what had been his pride. 

Well, the beasts lay in wait for him again, and when he 
came to them they showed their fangs in greeting. And 
the velvet was over their claws. He had escaped them 
before. He had impugned their skill in the hunt, and they 
were ravenous for him. Now he was fatter, too. He went 
away from them with hard terms, and a sickness at his 
heart. But he had not said " Yes " to the terms. He was 
going home to consider the almost hopeless conditions 
under which they would let him build again. 

They were staying with a neighbor in town pending 
his negotiations and thither he went to ponder on his cir 
cumstances. Then it was that Cindy Ann came into the 
equation. She demanded to know what was to be done 
and how it was to be gone about. 

" But Cindy Ann, honey, you do' know nuffin' 'bout 
bus'ness." 

"'Tain't whut I knows, but whut I got a right to 
know," was her response. 

"I do' see huccome you got any right to be a-pryin' 
into dese hyeah things." 

23 



412 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

" I's got de same right I had to wo'k an' struggle erlong 
an' he'p you get whut we's done los'." 

Jerry winced and ended by telling her all. 

" Dat ain't nuffin' but owdacious robbery," said Cindy 
Ann. " Dem people sees dat you got a little somep'n', 
an' dey ain't gwine stop ontwell dey's bu'nt an' stoled 
evah blessed cent f'om you. Je'miah, don't you have 
nuffin' mo' to do wid 'em." 

" I got to, Cindy Ann." 

" Whut fu' you got to ? " 

" How I gwine buiF a cabin an' a ba'n an' buy a mule 
less'nldealwid'em?" 

" Dah's Mas' Sam Brabant. He'd he'p you out." 

Jerry rose up, his eyes flashing fire. " Cindy Ann," 
he said, " you a fool, you ain't got no mo' pride den a 
guinea hen, an' you got a heap less sense. W'y, befo' I 
go to ol' Mas' Sam Brabant fu' a cent, I'd sta've out in 
de road." 

" Huh ! " said Cindy Ann, shutting her mouth on her 
impatience. 

One gets tired of thinking and saying how much 
more sense a woman has than a man when she comes 
in where his sense stops and his pride begins. 

With the recklessness of despair Jerry slept late that 
next morning, but he might have awakened early with 
out spoiling his wife's plans. She was up betimes, had 
gone on her mission and returned before her spouse 
awoke. 

It was about ten o'clock when Brabant came to see 
him. Jerry grew sullen at once as his master approached, 
but his pride stiffened. This white man should see that 
misfortune could not weaken him. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 413 

"Well, Jerry," said his former master, " you would not 
come to me, eh, so I must come to you. You let a little 
remark of mine keep you from your best friend, and put 
you in the way of losing the labor of years." 

Jerry made no answer. 

" You've proved yourself able to work well, but Jerry," 
pausing, " you haven't yet shown that you're able to take 
care of yourself, you don't know how to keep your mouth 
shut." 

The ex-slave tried to prove this a lie by negative pan 
tomime. 

" I'm going to lend you the money to start again." 

-I won't " 

" Yes, you will, if you don't, I'll lend it to Cindy Ann, 
and let her build in her own name. She's got more sense 
than you, and she knows how to keep still when things 
go well." 

" Mas' Sam," cried Jerry, rising quickly, " don' len' dat 
money to Cindy Ann. W'y ef a ooman's got anything 
she nevah lets you hyeah de las' of it." 

" Will you take it, then ? " 

" Yes, suh ; yes, suh, an j thank 'e, Mas' Sam." There 
were sobs some place back in his throat. " An' nex* time 
ef I evah gets a sta't agin, I'll keep my mouf shet. Fac' 
is, I'll come to you, Mas' Sam, an' bony fu' de sake o 1 
hidin'." 



THE SCAPEGOAT 



THE law is usually supposed to be a stern mistress, not 
to be lightly wooed, and yielding only to the most ardent 
pursuit. But even law, like love, sits more easily on some 
natures than on others. 

This was the case with Mr. Robinson Asbury. Mr. 
Asbury had started life as a bootblack in the growing town 
of Cadgers. From this he had risen one step and become 
porter and messenger in a barber-shop. This rise fired his 
ambition, and he was not content until he had learned to use 
the shears and the razor and had a chair of his own. From 
this, in a man of Robinson's temperament, it was only a 
step to a shop of his own, and he placed it where it would 
do the most good. 

Fully one-half of the population of Cadgers was com 
posed of Negroes, and with their usual tendency to colonize, 
a tendency encouraged, and in fact compelled, by circum 
stances, they had gathered into one part of the town. Here 
in alleys, and streets as dirty and hardly wider, they 
thronged like ants. 

It was in this place that Mr. Asbury set up his shop, and 
he won the hearts of his prospective customers by putting 
up the significant sign, "Equal Rights Barber-Shop." This 
legend was quite unnecessary, because there was only one 
race about, to patronize the place. But it was a delicate sop 
to the people's vanity, and it served its purpose. 

414 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 415 

Asbury came to be known as a clever fellow, and his 
business grew. The shop really became a sort of club, 
and, on Saturday nights especially, was the gathering- 
place of the men of the whole Negro quarter. He kept 
the illustrated and race journals there, and those who 
cared neither to talk nor listen to some one else might see 
pictured the doings of high society in very short skirts 
or read in the Negro papers how Miss Boston had enter 
tained Miss Blueford to tea on such and such an after 
noon. Also, he kept the policy returns, which was wise, 
if not moral. 

It was his wisdom rather more than his morality that 
made the party managers after a while cast their glances 
towards him as a man who might be useful to their in 
terests. It would be well to have a man a shrewd, 
powerful man down in that part of the town who could 
carry his people's vote in his vest pocket, and who at any 
time its delivery might be needed, could hand it over with 
out hesitation. Asbury seemed that man, and they settled 
upon him. They gave him money, and they gave him 
power and patronage. He took it all silently and he 
carried out his bargain faithfully. His hands and his 
lips alike closed tightly when there was anything within 
them. It was not long before he found himself the big 
Negro of the district and, of necessity, of the town. The 
time came when, at a critical moment, the managers saw 
that they had not reckoned without their host in choosing 
this barber of the black district as the leader of his 
people. 

Now, so much success must have satisfied any other 
man. But in many ways Mr. Asbury was unique. For 
a long time he himself had done very little shaving 



416 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

except of notes, to keep his hand in. His time had been 
otherwise employed. In the evening hours he had been 
wooing the coquettish Dame Law, and, wonderful to say, 
she had yielded easily to his advances. 

It was against the advice of his friends that he asked 
for admission to the bar. They felt that he could do 
more good in the place where he was. 

" You see, Robinson," said old Judge Davis, " it's jusl 
like this : If you're not admitted, it'll hurt you with the 
people ; if you are admitted, you'll move up-town to ari 
office and get out of touch with them." 

Asbury smiled an inscrutable smile. Then he whis 
pered something into the judge's ear that made the old 
man wrinkle from his neck up with appreciative smiles. 

" Asbury," he said, " you are you are well, you 
ought to be white, that's all. When we find a black man 
like you we send him to State's prison. If you were 
white, you'd go to the Senate." 

The Negro laughed confidently. 

He was admitted to the bar soon after, whether by 
merit or by connivance is not to be told. 

" Now he will move up-town," said the black commu 
nity. " Well, that's the way with a colored man when he 
gets a start." 

But they did not know Asbury Robinson yet. He 
was a man of surprises, and they were destined to disap 
pointment. He did not move up-town. He built an 
office in a small open space next his shop, and there 
hung out his shingle. 

" I will never desert the people who have done so much 
to elevate me," said Mr. Asbury. " I will live among 
them and I will die among them." 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 417 

This was a strong card for the barber-lawyer. The 
people seized upon the statement as expressing a nobility 
of an altogether unique brand. 

They held a mass meeting and indorsed him. They 
made resolutions that extolled him, and the Negro band 
came around and serenaded him, playing various things 
in varied time. 

All this was very sweet to Mr. Asbury, and the party 
managers chuckled with satisfaction and said, " That As 
bury, that Asbury 1 " 

Now there is a fable extant of a man who tried to please 
everybody, and his failure is a matter of record. Rob 
inson Asbury was not more successful. But be it said 
that his ill success was due to no fault or shortcoming 
of his. 

For a long time his growing power had been looked 
upon with disfavor by the colored law firm of Bingo 
& Latchett. Both Mr. Bingo and Mr. Latchett themselves 
aspired to be Negro leaders in Cadgers, and they were 
delivering Emancipation Day orations and riding at the 
head of processions when Mr. Asbury was blacking 
boots. Is it any wonder, then, that they viewed with 
alarm his sudden rise ? They kept their counsel, how 
ever, and treated with him, for it was best. They al 
lowed him his scope without open revolt until the day 
upon which he hung out his shingle. This was the last 
straw. They could stand no more. Asbury had stolen 
their other chances from them, and now he was poach 
ing upon the last of their preserves. So Mr. Bingo and 
Mr. Latchett put their heads together to plan the down 
fall of their common enemy. 

The plot was deep and embraced the formation of aa 



4 i8 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

opposing faction made up of the best Negroes of the 
town. It would have looked too much like what it was 
for the gentlemen to show themselves in the matter, and 
so they took into their confidence Mr. Isaac Morton, 
the principal of the colored school, and it was under his 
ostensible leadership that the new faction finally came 
into being. 

Mr. Morton was really an innocent young man, and he 
had ideals which should never have been exposed to the 
air. When the wily confederates came to him with their 
plan he believed that his worth had been recognized, and 
at last he was to be what Nature destined him for a 
leader. 

The better class of Negroes by that is meant those 
who were particularly envious of Asbury 's success 
flocked to the new man's standard. But whether the 
race be white or black, political virtue is always in a 
minority, so Asbury could afford to smile at the force ar 
rayed against him. 

The new faction met together and resolved. They re 
solved, among other things, that Mr. Asbury was an 
enemy to his race and a menace to civilization. They 
decided that he should be abolished ; but, as they couldn't 
get out an injunction against him, and as he had the 
whole undignified but still voting black belt behind him, 
he went serenely on his way. 

" They're after you hot and heavy, Asbury," said one 
of his friends to him 

" Oh, yes," was the reply, " they're after me, but after 
a while I'll get so far away that they'll be running in 
front." 

" It's all the best people, they say." 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 419 

" Yes. Well, it's good to be one of the best people, but 
your vote only counts one just the same." 

The time came, however, when Mr. Asbury's theory 
was put to the test. The Cadgerites celebrated the first 
of January as Emancipation Day. On this day there was 
a large procession, with speech-making in the afternoon 
and fireworks at night. It was the custom to concede 
the leadership of the colored people of the town to the 
man who managed to lead the procession. For two years 
past this honor had fallen, of course, to Robinson Asbury, 
and there had been no disposition on the part of anybody 
to try conclusions with him. 

Mr. Morton's faction changed all this. When Asbury 
went to work to solicit contributions for the celebration, 
he suddenly became aware that he had a fight upon his 
hands. All the better-class Negroes were staying out of 
it. The next thing he knew was that plans were on foot 
for a rival demonstration. 

" Oh," he said to himself, " that's it, is it ? Well, if they 
want a fight they can have it." 

He had a talk with the party managers, and he had 
another with Judge Davis. 

"All I want is a little lift, judge," he said, "and I'll 
make 'em think the sky has turned loose and is vomiting 
niggers." 

The judge believed that he could do it. So did the party 
managers. Asbury got his lift. Emancipation Day came. 

There were two parades. At least, there was one parade 
and the shadow of another. Asbury's, however, was not 
the shadow. There was a great deal of substance about 
it substance made up of many people, many banners, 
and numerous bands. He did not have the best people. 



420 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

Indeed, among his cohorts there were a good many of 
the pronounced rag-tag and bobtail. But he had noise 
and numbers. In such cases, nothing more is needed. 
The success of Asbury 's side of the affair did everything 
to confirm his friends in their good opinion of him. 

When he found himself defeated, Mr. Silas Bingo saw 
that it would be policy to placate his rival's just anger 
against him. He called upon him at his office the day 
after the celebration. 

"Well, Asbury," he said, " you beat us, didn't you?" 

" It wasn't a question of beating," said the other calmly. 
" It was only an inquiry as to who were the people the 
few or the many." 

" Well, it was well done, and you've shown that you are 
a manager. I confess that I haven't always thought that 
you were doing the wisest thing in living down here and 
catering to this class of people when you might, with your 
ability, to be much more to the better class." 

" What do they base their claims of being better on ?' ; 

" Oh, there ain't any use discussing that. We can't 
get along without you, we see that. So I, for one, have 
decided to work with you for harmony." 

" Harmony. Yes, that's what we want." 

" If I can do anything to help you at any time, why 
you have only to command me." 

" I am glad to find such a friend in you. Be sure, if I 
ever need you, Bingo, I'll call on you." 

" And I'll be ready to serve you." 

Asbury smiled when his visitor was gone. He smiled, 
and knitted his brow. " I wonder what Bingo's got up 
his sleeve," he said. " He'll bear watching." 

It may have been pride at his triumph, it may have 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 421 

been gratitude at his helpers, but Asbury went into the 
ensuing campaign with reckless enthusiasm. He did the 
most daring things for the party's sake. Bingo, true to 
his promise, was ever at his side ready 'to serve him. 
Finally, association and immunity made danger less fear 
some ; the rival no longer appeared a menace. 

With the generosity born of obstacles overcome, Asbury 
determined to forgive Bingo and give him a chance. He 
let him in on a deal, and from that time they worked 
amicably together until the election came and passed. 

It was a close election and many things had had to be 
done, but there were men there ready and waiting to do 
them. They were successful, and then the first cry of the 
defeated party was, as usual, " Fraud ! Fraud 1 " The 
cry was taken up by the jealous, the disgruntled, and the 
virtuous. 

Some one remembered how two years ago the registra 
tion books had been stolen. It was known upon good 
authority that money had been freely used. Men held 
up their hands in horror at the suggestion that the Negro 
vote had been juggled with, as if that were a new thing. 
From their pulpits ministers denounced the machine and 
bade their hearers rise and throw off the yoke of a cor 
rupt municipal government. One of those sudden fevers 
of reform had taken possession of the town and threat 
ened to destroy the successful party. 

They began to look around them. They must purify 
themselves. They must give the people some tangible 
evidence of their own yearnings after purity. They 
looked around them for a sacrifice to lay upon the altar 
of municipal reform. Their eyes fell upon Mr. Bingo. 
No, he was not big- enough. His blood was too scant to 



422 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

wash away the political stains. Then they looked into 
each other's eyes and turned their gaze away to let it fall 
upon Mr. Asbury. They really hated to do it. But there 
must be a scapegoat. The god from the Machine com 
manded them to slay him 

Robinson Asbury was charged with many crimes 
with all that he had committed and some that he had not 
When Mr. Bingo saw what was afoot he threw himself 
heart and soul into the work of his old rival's enemies. 
He was of incalculable use to them. 

Judge Davis refused to have anything to do with the 
matter. But in spite of his disapproval it went on. 
Asbury was indicted and tried. The evidence wa; all 
against him, and no one gave more damaging testimony 
than his friend, Mr. Bingo. The judge's charge was 
favorable to the defendant, but the current of popular 
opinion could not be entirely stemmed. The jury 
brought in a verdict of guilty. 

" Before I am sentenced, judge, I have a statement to 
make to the court. It will take less than ten minutes." 

" Go on, Robinson," said the judge kindly. 

Asbury started, in a monotonous tone, a recital that 
brought the prosecuting attorney to his feet in a minute. 
The judge waved him down, and sat transfixed by a sort 
of fascinated horror as the convicted man went on. 
The before-mentioned attorney drew a knife and started 
for the prisoner's dock. With difficulty he was re 
strained. A dozen faces in the court-room were red and 
pale by turns. 

" He ought to be killed," whispered Mr. Bingo audibly. 

Robinson Asbury looked at him and smiled, and then 
he told a few things of him. He gave the ins and outs 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 423 

of some of the misdemeanors of which he stood accused. 
He showed who were the men behind the throne. And 
still, pale and transfixed, Judge Davis waited for his own 
sentence. 

Never were ten minutes so well taken up. It was a 
tale of rottenness and corruption in high places told 
simply and with the stamp of truth upon it. 

He did not mention the judge's , name. But he had 
torn the mask from the face of every other man who 
had been concerned in his downfall They had shorn 
him of his strength, but they had forgotten that he was 
yet able to bring the roof and pillars tumbling about their 
heads. 

The judge's voice shook as he pronounced sentence 
upon his old ally a year in State's prison. 

Some people said it was too light, but the judge knew 
what it was to wait for the sentence of doom, and he was 
grateful and sympathetic. 

When the sheriff led Asbury away the judge hastened 
to have a short talk with him. 

" I'm sorry, Robinson," he said, " and I want to tell 
you that you were no more guilty than the rest of us. 
But why did you spare me ? " 

" Because I knew you were my friend," answered the 
convict. 

" I tried to be, but you were the first man that I've 
ever known since I've been in politics who ever gave me 
any decent return for friendship." 

" I reckon you're about right, judge." 

In politics, party reform usually lies in making a scape 
goat of some one who is only as criminal as the rest, but 
a little weaker. Asbury' s friends and enemies had sue- 



424 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

ceeded in making* him bear the burden of all the party's 
crimes, but their reform was hardly a success, and their 
protestations of a change of heart were received with 
doubt. Already there were those who began to pity the 
victim and to say that he had been hardly dealt with. 

Mr. Bingo was not of these ; but he found, strange to 
say, that his opposition to the idea went but a little way, 
and that even with Asbury out of his path he was a 
smaller man than he was before. Fate was strong 
against him. His poor, prosperous humanity could not 
enter the lists against a martyr. Robinson Asbury was 
now a martyr. 

II 

A year is not a long time. It was short enough to pre 
vent people from forgetting Robinson, and yet long 
enough for their pity to grow strong as they remembered. 
Indeed, he was not gone a yean Good behavior cut 
two months off the time of his sentence, and by the time 
people had come around to the notion that he was really 
the greatest and smartest man in Cadgers he was at 
home again. 

He came back with no flourish of trumpets, but 
quietly, humbly. He went back again into the heart of 
the black district. His business had deteriorated during 
his absence, but he put new blood and new life into it. He 
did not go to work in the shop himself, but, taking down 
the shingle that had swung idly before his office door 
during his imprisonment, he opened the little room as a 
news- and cigar-stand. 

Here anxious, pitying custom came to him and he 
prospered again. He was very quiet. Up-town hardly 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 425 

knew that he was again in Cadgers, and it knew nothing 
whatever of his doings. 

" I wonder why Asbury is so quiet," they said to one 
another. " It isn't like him to be quiet." And they felt 
vaguely uneasy about him. 

So many people had begun to say, " Well, he was a 
mighty good fellow after all." 

Mr. Bingo expressed the opinion that Asbury was 
quiet because he was crushed, but others expressed doubt 
as to this. There are calms and calms, some after and 
some before the storm. Which was this? 

They waited a while, and, as no storm came, concluded 
that this must be the after-quiet. Bingo, reassured, vol 
unteered to go and seek confirmation of this conclu 
sion. 

He went, and Asbury received him with an indifferent, 
not to say, impolite, demeanor. 

" Well, we're glad to see you back, Asbury," said 
Bingo patronizingly. He had variously demonstrated 
his inability to lead during his rival's absence and was 
proud of it. " What are you going to do ?" 

" I'm going to work." 

" That's right. I reckon you'll stay out of politics." 

" What could I do even if I went in ? " 

" Nothing now, of course ; but I didn't know " 

He did not see the gleam in Asbury 's half-shut eyes. 
He only marked his humility, and he went back swelling 
with the news. 

" Completely crushed all the run taken out of him," 
was his report. 

The black district believed this, too, and a sullen, 
smouldering anger took possession of them. Here was 



426 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

a good man ruined. Some of the people whom he had 
helped in his former days some of the rude, coarse 
people of the low quarter who were still sufficiently un 
enlightened to be grateful talked among themselves and 
offered to get up a demonstration for him. But he de 
nied them. No, he wanted nothing of the kind. It 
would only bring him into unfavorable notice. All he 
wanted was that they would always be his friends and 
would stick by him. 

They would to the death. 

There were again two factions in Cadgers. The school 
master could not forget how once on a time he had been 
made a tool of by Mr. Bingo. So he revolted against 
his rule and set himself up as the leader of an opposing 
clique. The fight had been long and strong, but had 
ended with odds slightly in Bingo's favor. 

But Mr. Morton did not despair. As the first of Jan 
uary and Emancipation Day approached, he arrayed his 
hosts, and the fight for supremacy became fiercer than 
ever. The school-teacher brought the school-children 
in for chorus singing, secured an able orator, and the 
best essayist in town. With all this, he was formi 
dable. 

Mr. Bingo knew that he had the fight of his life on his 
hands, and he entered with fear as well as zest. He, too, 
found an orator, but he was not sure that he was as good 
as Morton's. There was no doubt but that his essayist 
was not. He secured a band, but still he felt unsatisfied. 
He had hardly done enough, and for the schoolmaster to 
beat him now meant his political destruction. 

It was in this state of mind that he was surprised to re 
ceive a visit from Mr. Asbury. 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 427 

" I reckon you're surprised to see me here," said As- 
bury, smiling. 

" I am pleased, I know/' Bingo was astute. 

" Well, I just dropped in on business." 

" To be sure, to be sure, Asbury. What can I do for 
you?" 

" It's more what I can do for you that I came to talk 
about," was the reply. 

" I don't believe I understand you." 

"Well, it's plain enough. They say that the school 
teacher is giving you a pretty hard fight" 

"Oh, not so hard." 

" No man can be too sure of winning* though, Mr. 
Morton once did me a mean turn when he started the 
faction against me." 

Bingo's heart gave a great leap, and then stopped for 
the fraction of a second. 

" You were in it, of course," pursued Asbury, " but I 
can look over your part in it in order to get even with 
the man who started it." 

It was true, then, thought Bingo gladly. He did not 
know. He wanted revenge for his wrongs and upon the 
wrong man. How well the schemer had covered his 
tracks 1 Asbury should have his revenge and Morton 
would be the sufferer. 

" Of course, Asbury, you know what I did I did in 
nocently." 

" Oh, yes, in politics we are all lambs and the wolves 
are only to be found in the other party. We'll pass 
that, though. What I want to say is that I can help you 
to make your celebration an overwhelming success. I 
still have some influence down in my district." 

24 



428 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

' Certainly, and very justly, too. Why, I should 
be delighted with your aid. I could give you a prom 
inent place in the procession." 

"I don't want it ; I don't want to appear in this at all 
All I want is revenge. You can have all the credit, but 
let me down my enemy." 

Bingo was perfectly willing, and, with their heads close 
together, they had a long and close consultation. When 
Asbury was gone, Mr. Bingo lay back in his chair and 
laughed. "I'm a slick duck," he said. 

From that hour Mr. Bingo's cause began to take on 
the appearance of something very like a boom. More 
bands were hired. The interior of the State was called 
upon and a more eloquent orator secured. The crowd 
hastened to array itself on the growing side. 

With surprised eyes, the school-master beheld the wonder 
of it, but he kept to his own purpose with dogged in 
sistence, even when he saw that he could not turn aside 
the overwhelming defeat that threatened him. But in 
spite of his obstinacy, his hours were dark and bitter. 
Asbury worked like a mole, all underground, but he was 
indefatigable. Two days before the celebration time 
everything was perfected for the biggest demonstration 
that Cadgers had ever known. All the next day and 
night he was busy among his allies. 

On the morning of the great day, Mr. Bingo, wonder 
fully caparisoned, rode down to the hall where the parade 
was to form. He was early. No one had yet come. In 
an hour a score of men all told had collected. Another 
nour passed, and no more had come. Then there smote 
upon his ear the sound of music. They were coming at 
last Bringing his sword to his shoulder, he rode forward 



OF PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 429 

to the middle of the street. Ah, there they were. But 
but could he believe his eyes ? They were going in an 
other direction, and at their head rode Morton 1 He 
gnashed his teeth in fury. He had been led into a trap 
and betrayed. The procession passing had been his all 
his. He heard them cheering, and then, oh 1 climax of 
infidelity, he saw his own orator go past in a carriage, 
bowing and smiling to the crowd. 

There was no doubting who had done this thing. The 
hand of Asbury was apparent in it. He must have known 
the truth all along, thought Bingo. His allies left him 
one by one for the other hall, and he rode home in a 
humiliation deeper than he had ever known before. 

Asbury did not appear at the celebration. He was at 
his little news-stand all day. 

In a day or two the defeated aspirant had further cause 
to curse his false friend. He found that not only had the 
people defected from him, but that the thing had been so 
adroitly managed that he appeared to be in fault, and 
three-fourths of those who knew him were angry at some 
supposed grievance. His cup of bitterness was full wheQ 
his partner, a quietly ambitious man, suggested that they 
dissolve their relations. 

His ruin was complete. 

The lawyer was not alone in seeing Asbury's hand in 
his downfall. The party managers saw it too, and they 
met together to discuss the dangerous factor which, while 
it appeared to slumber, was so terribly awake. They de 
cided that he must be appeased, and they visited him. 

He was still busy at his news-stand. They talked to 
him adroitly, while he sorted papers and kept an impassive 
face. When they were all done, he looked up for a mo- 



430 THE LIFE AND WORKS 

aient and replied, " You knpw, gentlemen, as an ex-con* 
vict I am not in politics." 

Some of them had the grace to flush. 

" But you can use your influence," they said. 

" I am not in politics," was his only reply. 

And the spring elections were coming on. Well, they 
worked hard, and he showed no sign. He treated with 
neither one party nor the other. " Perhaps," thought the 
managers, " he is out of politics," and they grew more 
confident. 

It was nearing eleven o'clock on the morning of elec 
tion when a cloud no bigger than a man's hand appeared 
upon the horizon. It came from the direction of the black 
district. It grew, and the managers of the party in power 
looked at it, fascinated by an ominous dread. Finally it 
began to rain Negro voters, and as one man they voted 
against their former candidates. Their organization was 
perfect. They simply cme, voted, and left, but they 
overwhelmed everything. Not one of the party that had 
damned Robinson Asbury was left in power save old 
Judge Davis. His majority was overwhelming. 

The generalship that had engineered the thing was 
perfect. There were loud threats against the newsdealer, 
But no one bothered him except a reporter. The re 
porter called to see just how it was done. He found 
Asbury very busy sorting papers. To the newspaper 
man's questions he had only this reply, "I am not in 
politics, sir." 

But Cadgers had learned its lesson. 



PS/537 
IV-5"